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The Awakening And Analysis On Female Repression Ap Literature Essay

1526 words - 7 pages

The 1900s sucked for women :(
Ten to twelve hours a day committed solely to the preparation of food. Expectations of a spotless home and welcoming environment for husband and friends alike. The raising of children as the moral and main responsibility of all mothers. Women of the nineteenth century faced a burdensome world, one almost unimaginable today. The joy of life could be difficult to find under the loads of caretaking, all done by hand. To find time for a moment of quietness or a minute to write down thoughts or paint a picture of yesterday’s sunset could be nearly impossible. While many women found solace and comfort in the belief that they were serving their families and communities, a section of the population could not thrive in such a setting as dictated to them. This population of women could not limit their intellectual lives to only an hour or so a day, and they chafed under the hours of domestic labor and the lack of influence and respect they could command. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin argues that in 1800s America women’s repression caused them to hide their true selves. When the pressure of maintaining a home and raising children meant denying creative gifts and talents, the burden could become too much. Women struggled to find their place in society, creative powers, and experience of femininity. The oppressiveness of the restraints, and the darkness of living under them could result in an inability to cope and hide their true nature, as Edna Pontellier does prior to her awakening.
The era that The Awakening is set in is incredibly repressive and particular about women's social roles, and the binding roles imposed on women cause them to attempt to fit a mold that does not truly represent themselves. Within a traditional, patriarchal society, individuality is suppressed or overlooked. The creole society that The Awakening is set in encourages the role of a “mother-woman” who “idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels”(8). Repeatedly, Mr. Pontellier acknowledges that his “wife failed in her duty toward their children,” but he is at a loss for how to articulate the lack of mother-love from Edna. He even feels regret when his thoughts wander toward that conclusion; however, he is not wrong. Edna is “not a mother-woman,” as Chopin calls the women who are “the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm.” Adèle Ratignolle acts as a foil to Edna’s own lack of interest in motherhood and wifely duties (10). According to Mr. Pontellier, his wife is deficient; she cannot hide her disdain for what society traditionally requires of a woman, and Mr. Pontellier is somewhat disgusted with Edna for this lack. Kate Chopin exposes the ultimatum women who were in the same situation as Edna faced when it came to being a female in 1900s society. It was either fit this mold or be outcasted from society. The Cult of Domesticity defined...

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