The Awakening

The Influence of Societal Ideals on Women in the 19th and 20th Centuries 11th Grade

The late nineteenth and early twentieth century was characterized as a time of growing change for women in terms of rights and freedom. As evidenced in “Editor’s Note: Contexts of The Awakening,” women’s acceptance of traditional female roles began dissipating, and women sought to become vocal participants within society. However, many women continued to suffer under a highly patriarchal society, where the male was the dominant figurehead in the household. Women and men largely lived within separate spheres of society, with women expected to live their lives within the home, maintaining the well-being of their families. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” present similar stories of the plight of women in an oppressive and misogynistic society. In both literary works, the respective female protagonists feel suffocated by the stifling expectations of society and rebel both consciously and subconsciously against the restrictive conventions of societal norms through rejecting the conventions associated with womanhood. Ultimately, both characters tragically liberate themselves from the societal bounds imposed on them by departure from the conscious world, via suicide in The Awakening and...

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