Chopin Vs Dubois

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“The Power of Perception:” DuBois and Chopin Through the Eyes of a Sociologist Although we now live in a society in which all citizens have equal opportunity, the United States wasn’t always the democracy it prides itself on being today. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, minorities in the United States, including the African American community and women, faced an overwhelming amount of stigmatization. W.E.B. DuBois and Kate Chopin were two prominent American authors of the era that led trailblazing efforts to speak out against the societal expectations attributed to their respective minorities. In The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois coins the concept of the African American “double-consciousness” to describe the difficult balance African Americans…show more content…
DuBois was born into a privileged family, but the vast majority of African Americans in his era were denied basic constitutional rights. Consequently, DuBois felt that the African American community had to maintain their needs as a culture, but also be weary of how others perceived them. In sociological terms, African Americans faced a continual role conflict between the “self-identity,” the way they viewed their culture, and the “looking-glass self,” the way they thought society viewed their culture. (Stolley 62). In The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois states, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” (DuBois 887). DuBois’ concept of double consciousness illustrates an unfortunate truth: those who feel society’s negative influence often start to adapt society’s viewpoint. In this case, African Americans were perceived as inferior to the white population at the time. In turn, the African American community attempted to balance two cultural identities, but to no avail. DuBois thought that African Americans should be proud of their ethnic backgrounds, but also be treated equally within American society. Instead, African Americans constantly faced a double-consciousness, wishing to keep their culture “Without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in [their] face[s].” (DuBois…show more content…
Edna, on the other hand, was born a “solitary soul” (the original name of Chopin’s novel) better suited to live her life without the responsibility associated with having a family. As Edna and her husband continued to have marital disputes, Edna decided to start focusing only on her individual needs. As Chopin states, “A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her -- the light which showing the way, forbids it.” (Chopin 571). Throughout The Awakening, Edna struggles between her role as a family figure and her role as an individual, fighting “Two contradictory impulses which impelled her.” (Chopin 571). While Edna had always viewed herself (self-identity) as an individual with important needs, society had viewed her as a caretaker with the obligation to fulfil the needs of her family (the looking-glass self). Consequently, Edna found herself in the midst of a role conflict, one which ultimately drove her to commit suicide. If society would have allowed Edna to maintain more of her individuality, then perhaps Edna would not have been forced to take such drastic measures. While Edna’s friend, Adele, was content with her role a caretaker, Edna had difficulty understanding why women were not allowed to be more than merely a societal label. Ultimately, Edna’s suicide

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