American Studies: What gender issues of its time does "The Awakening" reflect

Essay by johnt101C+, February 2006

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"The Awakening" has been very important to women's movement. Although some people question the importance of this book in terms of effect it had on society. The main character Edna commits suicide, this has caused widely mixed opinions about the ending, some say that there was conflict between mother hood and free choice for women like getting a job to be financially independent. So most people say that her suicide was a victory over society's limitations. Others feel that she killed herself because she felt defeated by society and did not want to disgrace her children.

Women's issues were still too new in the late 1800s for the book to have any impact at the time it was made. Rights for women did not start to becoming major political importance till around the 1930s/40s, I think this because of world war 2, where the country's involved needed women to do very demanding jobs, there for showing to both men and women that they can be more then shadows in their husbands lives.

But since the 1940s we however, have recognized the book as an important contribution to the understanding of women's changing roles in our society. To me this seems as if the book was published way ahead of its time and that Kate Choplin made this book that had lots of messages about how women were treated as 2nd class citizens in the western world at that point of time. Maybe not surprisingly Kate was very sensitive in women's issues and as well she was interested in equality not just for women but for blacks as well. She spent many hours with her family's slaves. I think Kate Choplin based Edna the main character in her book on her self in some ways, Because Kate herself would...