The Awakening-Women's Movement Term Paper

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The Awakening - connection to the Women's Movement through Edna Pontellier

The Women s Movement was a long and strenuous battle. The battle included more than just letters, as books, pamphlets, marches, and many more activities were planned and executed. Just one of the thousands upon thousands of works used in the Women s Movement, was The Awakening. The Awakening is a large supporter of the Women s Movement as seen through Edna Pontellier s actions and thoughts.

Edna shows her discontent with the rules society forces upon her shortly after the book begins. It is the unwritten rule that a woman should marry, have children, and be happy and content with that as their life. Society portrays this to be a woman's rightful job and duty. Edna feels that, though many women agree with this "known" rule, it isn't fair. For six years Edna conforms to these ideas by being a "proper" wife and mother, holding Tuesday socials and going to operas, following the same enduring schedule. It is only after her summer spent at Grand Isle that her "mechanical" lifestyle becomes apparent to her. She sees how much she is unhappy with the expectations, held by society, of her life and she wishes to erase them and live her life as she wants.

Once Edna realizes that she does not enjoy her life, her actions of rebellion is what is embraced by the feminist eye. Edna s need for an uncontrolled lifestyle is what leaves her feeling "owned" and wanting to break the wife-label she wears; she fights to do as she wishes. Little by little she breaks free of society's' image, letting her independence shine through. She cancels her Tuesday socials and helps out around the house doing little chores. The biggest step she made was her decision to move away from her mansion and into the "pigeon house", a little cottage around corner. After this move she was free to explore her new profound freedom and desires. No matter how hard Edna tried to get more freedom it was never enough.

The Women s Movement refers to Edna s death as the boldest step in declaring freedom. Edna could not achieve what was in her mind perfect freedom, so she committed suicide. The fact that Edna would not live unless she had exactly what she wanted shows how much she fought for her views. Edna believed that in death, there were no expectations, no one to impress or be "proper" for, and most importantly no one to answer to, except herself. Although for a woman, marriage was deemed to be the only honorable state, Edna deemed the only honorable state was death.

Edna fought long and hard for the Women s Movement, although indirect, her fight is still easily seen. She tried hard and even though she failed, it is her strength in which she fought that captures the eye of the Women s Movement. Her struggle and fight in the plot is inspirational and makes a person realize just how lucky they are to be able to speak their minds and do as they wish.

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