The Awakening

Edna Pontellier's Emancipation to Individuality and Independence College

Edna Pontellier was brought up in a male-dominated society, where her role as an individual was decided in advance. As a woman of the late nineteenth century, Edna is required to act accordingly to a set of prescribed (though mostly unspoken) social rules, standards, and expectations of the upper-class Victorian era. During the early stages of her marriage to Léonce Pontellier, Edna is “unaware that her oppression is founded on gender ideology [...] [which] works through the construction of female identity [and] defines women as weak, impotent and inferior to men” (Sittichane 2009, 43). She is subconsciously accustomed to living in a patriarchal society, where a woman is expected to view her family, i.e. her husband and children, as the primary focus and aspect of her life; this contributes to the justification of the domestication of women and prevents them from building careers other than motherhood. Because of this, Edna naturally assumes that she must live and die accordingly to these rules, though she subconsciously does not necessarily follow them; already in the very beginning of the novel, the female protagonist does not act how one would expect an average Victorian wife and mother to behave, though she herself does not...

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