An Introduction to the Critical Perspectives
A novel, a piece of literature, a story, or a book; all names for pieces of work in which a reader can assess the author’s choice of character, symbolism, setting, background, and point of view from different perspective to gain a deeper meaning of the words put to paper. There are three main perspectives or views in which a work of literature can be analyzed: feminist, historical, and psychoanalytical. This particular essay will focus on a description and analysis of the psychoanalytical view. Let us first get a small background in the three perspectives first: To look at the inner workings of a novel using the feminist perspective is to assess prior said literary elements from this feminist mindset. Did a character go against the grain when it came to the ideals of feminine culture? Was the author a feminist or against feminism? Also, through the eyes of the feminist view, we can take a look at race, ethnicity, and other such backgrounds that may have struggled with inequality or prejudices. Then there is the historical perspective in which the literary elements are analyzed in accordance to the time period. When was the novel written? Did the character stand for someone who was an object of importance during that time? Was there a significant historical event at the time of the novel’s release? Finally, there is the psychoanalytical perspective where literary elements are looked at and analyzed at a much deeper angle. Why did that character think and act the way she did? Did her actions have a deeper significance that was a symbol from the author? Perhaps there was a message in the symbolism used from the author to her audience; such as the symbolism we find in The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. If we take a deeper look, and psychoanalyze some of the repeating objects in Chopin’s novel, we will see a great significance and a deep connection between these items and the characters themselves. As we dig deeper into the symbolism used, the characters will come to life in many ways the reader may not see if he/she barely scratches the surface.
While the main goal of this essay will be the psychoanalytical view of the symbolism and its ulterior motives in meaning; it is also a sub-goal to take a look at some of the important aspects of The Awakening from the feminist perspective and the historical perspective. Let us first get the feminist perspective under way. Edna was obviously a woman who was looking to obtain freedom and independence. She was tied down in a marriage to a husband who thought of her as his own personal property; not as a human being. She also, having had children at a young age, left behind any chance or time to live out her dreams and desires. Upon meeting and befriending a young man, Robert Lebrun, Edna realizes that she in fact has a lot of passion and emotion left inside of her that she needs to set free. From a feminist perspective, this is unheard of; a woman in this era was suppose to marry her husband, remain faithful and loyal, and stays at home taking care of the children. No woman was expected to desire freedom from marriage and freedom from any child she brought into the world. Nor was a woman supposed to speak out and speak of these types of things in a casual manner. Chopin shows us that Edna realizes her tendencies to go against the norm, yet she doesn’t care that her desire for a different life speaks for itself, “I suppose this is what you would call unwomanly; but I have got into a habit of expressing myself. It doesn't matter to me, and you may think me unwomanly if you like” (Chopin, 1899, Ch. 36, para. 12).
As for analyzing The Awakening in a historical manner, it is easiest done if we take a look at the time period at which Kate Chopin wrote in. It is important to remember that “literary historians and cultural critics assert that one must have a rich understanding of the time in which the...
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