Society's Standards In The Late 1800's

Topics: Woman, Gender role, Wife Pages: 4 (1255 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Awakening

By: Danny Pitts

Society's Standards In the late 1800's, as well as the early 1900's, women felt discriminated against by men and by society in general. Men generally held discriminatory and stereotypical views of women. Women had no control over themselves and were perceived to be nothing more than property to men. They were expected to live up to a perfect image that society had created, while trying to comply with their husbands' desires. While many women felt dissatisfied with their lives, they would not come out and say it. However, in 1899, Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening, which showed women that they were not alone. This novel showed the discriminatory views and treatment towards women. It also distinctly indicates the dissatisfaction that women felt in their lives. Because of the roles that society has given them, women are not able to seek and fulfill their own psychological and sexual drives. In The Awakening, Chopin uses Edna Pontellier to show that women do not want to be restricted by the roles that society has placed on them. Because of the time she lived in, Edna felt oppressed just because she was a woman. Being a married woman and a mother made her feel even more tied down. By looking at the relationship between Edna and her husband, Leonce, we see that men treated women as if they were nothing more than possessions or property. They had no respect for their wives, mothers, or even their daughters as they constantly treated them like housemaids who were there to answer to their every call. Even Edna's father thinks that his daughter is her husband's property. We see this when he says "You are far too lenient, too lenient by far, Leonce. Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife" (Chopin 663). This is her own father telling her husband that he needs to be tougher on her. Chopin is clearly showing the inequality of women here. Nowadays, you would never find a...

Bibliography: Chopin, Kate. "The Awakening." Literature: Thinking, Reading, and Writing Critically. 2nd ed. Ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. New York: Longman, 1997. 607-699. Aull Ph.D., Felice. "Kate Chopin: The Awakening." Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. 34th ed. (April 1999). Online. New York University. Internet. 10 April 1999. Available: Bender, Brent. "The Teeth of Desire: The Awakening and The Descent of Man." American Literature. Sept. 1991 (459-474). Conn, Peter. The Divided Mind: Ideology and Imagination in America, 1898-1917 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1983), pp. 165, 167.
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