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Critical Analysis of The Awakening

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In the Victorian society, there were many restrictions as to what women should do and not. There were many strict behaviors, conventions and social obligations that women should adhere to. The novel tells the story of an independent, strong and will powered woman unheard of during the Victorian times. The writer examines the story from the perspective of the oppressed with a tragic ending. Throughout the novel the writer explores many themes through the use of symbolisms and other literary terms. The main theme that stands out in novel is the gender issues and the breakup of patriarchal social conventions. The main character awakens from the oppression of the patriarchal rules and rouses her from the dullness and the rules that she had always lived in. In the novel The awakening, Kate Chopin explores the gender roles with numerous examples of issues that evolves due to the violations as well as the over-adherence of patriarchal rules. In the novel, the male characters exert their supremacy and control over the character Edna. The men in her life did not understand her need for independence. Her father is a strict man who adheres to the strict social rules of the Victorian society. He thinks very highly of controlling the women in his life. Her father played a large role on developing Edna as a mere servant by forcing her to follow the gender roles of the Victorian society. By developing her thoughts to conform to the social order from a tender age, he crushed her free thinking and the ways for her to express herself which led her to a passiveness until she awakened. Edna feels trapped with her father as he wants to control her every move. The colonel has a belief that women should be controlled by the men in the society as they are an inferior race, this is seen from his conversation with Mr. Pontellier You are too lenient, too lenient by far, Leonce. Authority and coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard. the only way to manage a wife. Take my word for it (Chopin, 1969, p. 954).When the colonel is around, Edna tries to do everything around the house as she does not want him to criticize her for not playing the role women are supposed to play in the house, she would not permit a servant or one of the children to do anything for him whom she might do herself (Chopin n.d.). Like Edna’s father, her husband also has a strong belief that women should sacrifice her for the family, He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it? He himself had his hands full with his brokerage business (Chopin). Both Edna’s husband and her father fail to see Edna as an individual who has her own needs and wants. They want her to live for them and make her see that their happiness is her happiness. But, Edna soon realized that there is indeed a life outside the four wall of the house which promised her freedom. She runs towards this freedom and paid a heavy price for confronting the gender roles of the Victorian society. Edna tries to break away from the clutches of rules which demand her to bow under the men in the society by having an affair with Robert Lebrune. However her dreams were shattered when she realized that she could never have the freedom and become an individual