Books Magazine

Fiction Fridays: The Awakening

By Shawndrarussell
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, published in 1899, is considered a scandalous novella about a woman who seemingly has it all but beneath the surface is completely unsatisfied with her suffocating societal roles of mother and wife. Married young with the adoration of an older, well-to-do gentleman, Edna Pontellier had a house in New Orleans, a vacation spot on Grande Isle, and two healthy, happy boys. Her husband bought her gifts, she had a male family friend that constantly flirted with her and stroked her ego, yet still, she was unhappy. Why? Because her marriage was a shell. Her husband Leonce wasn't a bad guy; he was just a typical wealthy man of the time period  that wasn't expected to show affection, help raise the kids, or have deep, scintillating conversations with Edna (which she desperately wanted but knew she couldn't really ask for since they were already comfortable in their marital roles and all her acquaintances thought she had a wonderful, doting husband).
Sadly, even over 100 years later, women are still sometimes criticized for wanting more out of their marriage. Modern women want a man that is romantic, that splits the parenting and household duties, and obviously contributes financially. Edna was one of the first female literary characters to also want these things, but it was taboo and therefore drove her to adultery and arguably madness. But she was right. You can't force love. A loving relationship should be an equal partnership, not some type of outdated hierarchy. While remnants of traditional roles still exist (and perhaps rightly so, such as a man being the protector aka killing spiders and walking on the outside of the sidewalk or women getting dolled up for their men), the reality is that Edna should not be villainized for her feelings, desires, and needs. Did she go about getting these the right way? No. Did she have a lot of choices in that day? No.
Edna was an early heroine, a woman that knew she wanted more out of life but just didn't know how to get it. Today we are expected to go to college, get a good job, get married, and have babies but maybe that's not everyone's path and that should be okay. Edna realized she didn't want what was considered a normal or perfect life, and therefore, she felt completely alone and isolated. Women of all ages and eras can relate to this dynamic, deeply confused woman who felt trapped by the life she created and did not want the "right' things like society told her she was supposed to.
Also, please read my Ehow articles published today:
Tips for Irish Road Bowling
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Writing a Letter
How to Write a Paper about Setting
How to Know Who You May Count On?

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