The Victorian Era: A Prison for a Woman’s Individuality
As Victorian writer, George Meredith once dictated: “Each one of an affectionate couple may be willing, as we say, to die for the other, yet unwilling to utter the agreeable word at the right moment.” In the novella The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the main character Edna Montpellier is a Victorian woman awakened from a stagnant life of a typical turn-of-the-century marriage. She looks for a life outside of her family that she desires to branch away from to find her artistic spirit. In her quest for finding her true self, she has a sensuous affair with a young man by the nae of Robert Lebrun. Chopin uses the suicide of Edna as a rebellious acceptance of her inability to become independent and liberated woman that she wants to be.
Chopin shows Edna’s ambitions of independence from her marriage through her rash and impulsive decisions. Edna’s excessive need to become independent and to get away from her family sparks her motivation to move to the “pigeon house” (Chopin, 141). She decides to move there after a rush of happiness and excitement over loving Robert. The house is “right around the block” and she only takes the “everything which she had acquired aside from her husband’s bounty” (141). She transplants herself “to the other house, supplying simple and meager deficiencies of her own resources” (141). Her sudden need to move to get away from everything that binds her to her married life is an expression of her free self. She leaves behind everything that she did not acquire and earn herself in order to be free of the grasp of her husband. Edna receives many gifts from Léonce throughout the novel, including a diamond necklace and gift baskets. The other women marvel at these gives, and Mrs. Pontellier is forced to admit that she has the “best husband in the world,” and that she knows “of none better” (15). Considering that Léonce is a neglectful man, who is more-often-than-not away...
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