Literary Analysis The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Essay by rotimi April 2004

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What is an ideal woman? Does the ideal woman change by decades, centuries or millenniums? Yes, in the 19th century, a woman needed to have certain qualities in order to be considered "ideal". Although some of these qualities have changed over a period, some have remained the same. In the 19th century Creole society, a quality associated with the ideal woman, included being a "mother-woman". This trait characterized a home-loving, child-adoring, and husband-worshipping lady. The Creole society had set-beliefs about how a woman should conduct herself. In The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Edna Pontellier, a non-native of the Creole community is depicted, as not embodying the ideal Creole woman, even though others expect her to since is married to Leonce Pontellier, a Creole native . In the course of this novel, Edna meets various friends and foes that help her find herself. Some of these friends include Adele Ratignolle and Mlle Reisz.

The ongoing friendships between Edna and Adele Ratignolle, and Edna and Mlle Reisz, appear to be greatly influential on Edna's personality; Mlle Reisz, as a social outcast to the Creole society aids Edna on her quest to individuality, while Adele's acceptance of the "mother-woman" role conflicts with Edna's awakening.

Adele Ratignolle's friendship with Edna causes Edna to experience many ups and downs in her life, this is because Edna gets confused with Adele's advice, because Adele, a "mother-woman" (16), encourages Edna to follow in her (Adele) own footsteps. Edna on the other hand, is on a quest to freedom and individuality, which does not include the thought of being a child-adoring and husband-worshipping woman. Throughout the course of this novel, Adele advises Edna to make her children a priority over herself, much as she does with her family. Adele sees Edna drifting away from her family,