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The Dual Consciousness of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.7, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 330-332

Keywords : American Literature; Gender Politics; Identity Politics; Kate Chopin; Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writings;

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Kate Chopin's The Awakening deals with the conflicting discourse on gender and sexuality proliferating in Nineteenth-Century American society. Published in 1899, the novel deals with the story of Edna Pontellier who is caught between the prevailing ideals of femininity closely associated with domesticity, filial duties and motherhood, as opposed to the more radical ideas of individualism, sexual emancipation and transgressive femininity emerging in the age. The Awakening radically questions and unsettles the patriarchal configuration of a woman's life who is caught between two hostile voices, the oppressive societal voice and her own radical transgressive voice. These two contradictory ideals of femininity in Postbellum American South, is primarily manifested in the figures of Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. This paper explores the conflict between individual autonomy and social conformity as represented in these two characters and how they influence the trajectory of Edna Pontellier's life. Unable to negotiate between the two, Edna Pontellier is driven to the precipice and forced to annihilate her own self. This paper will try to locate Kate Chopin amongst the different ideological positions propagated by the antebellum novelists and discuss the politics of gender and identity in postbellum American South

Last modified: 2022-05-26 16:39:01