When understanding a work of literature, most readers would take the work at its face value, not looking into other possible meanings, while a deconstructionist would take apart a text and find many other possible meanings. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin tells the story of Edna Pontellier, who feels that society is constricting and that she needs to be free of the norms set by society. She decides to leave her responsibilities and pursue a life of freedom, which she at first thinks is exactly what she wants. She abandons her life as a housewife and mother to follow a path that leads to her own destruction. By freeing herself from what she thought was an unhappy life, Edna finds herself more dejected, which leads her to her death. She thinks the only way to be truly free from the oppressiveness of society would be to die, which would release her of all her worries.
The point Chopin was trying to convey in The Awakening is that society is oppressive and forces women to stay in their place otherwise their reputation would be in jeopardy. The idea falls apart in that no one ever tries to stop Edna from her process of “awakening.” Not one person forces her to do her housework or take care of her children. It is merely suggested that she does so. Even though Edna receives warnings and scoldings from her husband to be a better mother and to take better care of the family, she ignores them, and Léonce thinks there is something mentally wrong with her (86). When Edna’s father comes to visit her, he scolds Léonce for being too lenient and not asserting his authority instead of realizing that Edna was asserting her own independence (107). The idea of an oppressive society disintegrates through this example. Edna believes that society is constricting her, when there isn’t anyone who is limiting her actions. Léonce, on finding out that Edna has moved into a smaller house, only disapproves because he fears his reputation would be injured because he believes others would think...
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