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Essay/Term paper: Kate chopin's the awakening

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Portrayal of the character Edna Her foils Setting- feminist mvment, etc. Style
Intended to help the reader understand the character of Edna her actual beliefs
external/internal influences Tone Helping the style, the tone also helps
the reader understand the rest of the characters Mr. Pontlierre (Critical Essay
quote) Mademoiselle (Speech about bird with strong wings. V. Conclusion

Edna Pontlierre experiences a theme of self-discovery throughout the entire
novel of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening. Within Edna's travel through self
discovery, Chopin successfully uses tone, style, and content to help the reader
understand a person challenging the beliefs of a naïve society at the beginning
of the twentieth century. Chopin's style and tone essentially helps the reader
understand the character of Edna and what her surrounding influences are. The
tone and style also helps the audience understand the rest of the characters
throughout the novel. The entire content is relevant to the time frame it was
written, expressing ideas of the forthcoming feminist movement and creating an
awareness of what was happening to the women of the early nineteenth century.
When "The Awakening" was first published, its popularity wasn't that of
modern day. In fact, it was widely rejected for years. Within the context, it
is considered a very liberal book from the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The ideas expressed within the content concern the women's movement and an
individual woman searching for who she really is. Ross C. Murfin in his
critical essay "The New Historicism and the Awakening", shows how Chopin uses
the entity of the hand to relate to both the entire women's issue and Edna
Pontlierre's self exploration:

"Chopin uses hands to raise the issues of women, property, self-possession, and
value. Women like Adele Ratignolle, represented by their perfectly pale or
gloved hands, are signs mainly of their husbands wealth, and therefor of what
Stange calls 'surplus value'. By insisting on supporting herself with her own
hands [through art] and having control of her own property [the place she moved
in to and her inheritance], Edna seeks to come into ownership of a self that is
more than a mere ornament. …She seeks to possess herself" (p 197).

Within in the content, Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle represent
foils to Edna. Mademoiselle represents a single woman that everyone dislikes
who Edna typically confides in. Adele Ratignolle contrasts Edna because she
"dutifully plays the social role of 'mother-woman'". The reader learns how Edna
contrasts and transcends throughout the entire novel. From her refusal to
sacrifice herself for her children in the beginning of the novel to her moving
into her own house towards the end of the novel, the reader is effectively
aware of the realities that face the women of the early twentieth century
individually and as a society.
Chopin's style in "The Awakening" is intended to help the audience
understand the character of Edna and the dilemmas that she faces as a married
woman and individual in the nineteen hundreds. For instance, the beginning of
the novel reveals to the audience a scene showing what type of person Mr.
Pontlierre is while showing what type of society everyone is living in at the
time. At an exclusive resort outside New Orleans, Edna arrives back from the
beach meeting her husband. "You are burnt beyond all recognition" he added,
looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which
has suffered some damage." (p 7 The Awakening). Within the context, Edna
exists as an asset to her husband. She is considered a piece of property and it
is this particular scene where Edna begins to question her life and continues to
throughout the novel. Chopin's style of showing the audience these realities
are expressed through the characters to show the relevance between Edna and the
literal reality in which women lived during the early nineteen hundreds.
Tone, like style, helps the reader understand the characters and what
they represent. It helps Chopin to express her concerns of the world through
the characters. As in the example given in the beginning of the book when Edna
is arriving back from the beach, the reader gets a first impression of Mr.
Pontlierre in his tone, representing that he is a very possessive man of his
wife and that this is accepted in their society. Mademoiselle's first
impression to Edna, despite what Edna hears about her, is that of a wise,
compassionate, friendly woman. Mademoiselle's tone supports these qualities,
and it ultimately helps Edna to decide what she wants to do with her life.
Mademoiselle gives advice through an analogy of a bird, showing how one must
have strong wings to survive, endure, and make it through its journey. The tone
of all the characters helps to express Chopin's beliefs and what the characters
The tone, style, and content of Chopin's "The Awakening" not only helps
the reader to understand the characters and their literary qualities, but the
relevancy of these characters to problems plaguing society such as the feminist
movement. Chopin's technique addresses' the problems of women as a whole while
showing individual dilemmas faced by women in the 1900's. "The Awakening" is
effective in conveying these ideas and has successfully used style, tone, and
content to prove these ideas.


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