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The Awakened Woman: A Study of Edna in the Awakening from the Perspective of Socialist Feminism

Author: ZhangXiaoQing
Tutor: XieMing
School: Yunnan Normal University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: awakening socialist feminism independence economy spirituality
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2009
Downloads: 126
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The Awakening, published in 1899, is the masterpiece of the American female writer Kate Chopin.In the second half of the nineteenth century, society made great economic and scientific process in many aspects, but women were still considered to be the possession of men. Kate Chopin focuses on this motif in her works and portrays female’s social status, matrimonial life, and autonomy in a profound manner.By analyzing Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, the paper intends to study the protagonist’s campaign against the fetters of conventional patriarchal society and her journey of pursuing self-hood and independence by adopting the theory of socialist feminism. As socialist feminists insist the oppression of all women by men is the effect of culture or the social relations. A change in society is needed in order to make a positive reform for women. But how is this change to be brought about? The obvious answer is to convince individual women to change their spiritual and economic dependence on men. Edna, the protagonist in The Awakening, makes such a struggle through a gradual awakening process of taking actions to gain economic and spiritual independence.This paper carries on a detailed analysis of the reasons as well as the process of the awakening, mainly the protagonist, Edna Pontellier’s self-awakenings, including the awakening of the sense in economic independence, the awakening in spirituality and the awakening in actions. After a serious of revolts and attempts, Edna finds her self-hood and independence. She thus becomes definitely a frontier feminist. As a new woman, Edna would like to pursue her dream at any costs. Her death cannot simply be regarded as a compromise with the conventional rules; rather, it is a beginning and rebirth of a new life.As to the reasons for portraying the new female image, this paper deals with the awakenings of the self-consciousness of World Women Liberation Movement in that period and the author Chopin herself. These awakenings bring to the author profound perplexities, and the awakening of Edna’s self-consciousness is based on the awakening of Chopin’s self-consciousness. It is Chopin’s personal experience that made her understand a lot about the truth in real life.Through analysis, this paper may claim the following conclusions: Under the strict control of the patriarchal society in the nineteenth century, women’s desire for complete independence could hardly be realized. Edna, who is the pioneer woman in fighting against the patriarchal oppression, experiences a journey from ignorance to awakening. Her awakening journey is a process and a passage rather than a program or a destination. Meanwhile, women must possess their own career just as socialist feminists concede. Women’s thorough liberation is based on their economic and spiritual independence.

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