Written Task 2
Question 4: Which social groups are marginalised, excluded or silenced?
Title of text: The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Corresponds to part 4; literature and critical study
Content of the task;
· How women such as characters like Edna have been marginalised, forced to fit specific roles set by the society. A role she doesn’t want to follow. How this forces her to make an ultimatum.
· How Edna is excluded from society and because of this showing her struggles within society
· How Edna is also marginalised, excluded and silenced by her non-connection with the society’s definition of what it is to be a mother and a wife
· How Edna battles against the societal structures of motherhood
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening was a bold piece of fiction in its time, and protagonist Edna Pontellier was a controversial character. She upset many nineteenth century expectations for women and their supposed roles. One of her most shocking actions was her denial of her role as a mother and wife. Kate Chopin displays this rejection gradually, but the concept of motherhood and societies expectations is a major theme throughout the novel.
Edna fights against the societal and natural structures of motherhood that force her to be defined by her title as wife of Leonce Pontellier and mother of Raoul and Etienne Pontellier, instead of being her own, self-defined individual. Through Chopin’s focus on two other female characters, Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz, Edna’s options of life paths are exhibited.
These women are the examples that the men around Edna contrast her with and from whom they obtain their expectations for her. Edna, however, finds both role models lacking and begins to see that the life of freedom and individuality that she wants goes against both society and nature. The inevitability of her fate as a male-defined creature brings her to a state of despair, and she frees herself the only way she can, through suicide.
In the world of Edna Pontellier one can either be defined by men or live a life separate from the rest of society, and therefore marginalised in comparison to men who are free to be whatever they want. “Women [can] either become wives and mothers . . . or exiles” (Papke 39). Adele Ratignolle is the epitome of the male-defined wife and mother. She is a “mother-woman.”
Adele is described as being a fairly talented pianist, yet even the very personal act of creating music is performed for the sake of her children. “She was keeping up her music on account of the children, she said; because she and her husband both considered it a means of brightening the home and making it attractive” (Chopin 27). Adele also brings constant attention to her pregnancy in ways Edna finds to be somewhat inappropriate. Adele is proud of her title of mother, and she is happy with her place in society and does not feel marginalised.
Conversely, Edna finds the life of the mother-woman fails to satisfy her desire for an existence free from...