April 17, 2015
Writing Assignment #3
In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, both female protagonists find themselves trapped by their gender and social roles. During the time period in which the novels take place, women had very few opportunities to express themselves, yet alone had little to no independence. Their expectations were to solely care for the household and for the family. Both the protagonists Edna Pontellier and narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper are faced with the challenge of learning their real identity and freeing themselves from gender and social roles at the time.
In The Awakening, the protagonist Edna is vacationing with her husband, Leonce, and their two sons. Edna’s husband is frequently absent in their marriage due to his job. Edna spends most of her time with her friend Adele, who teaches Edna about self-expression. During this relationship as friends, Edna becomes awakened and begins to discover who she really is. She also begins to have an affair with Robert Lebrun, who awakens Edna’s sexuality. Edna also begins to do things she enjoys such as painting and even learns how to swim. When she is away from Robert and not doing the things she enjoys, she is constantly depressed and feels suffocated being by her husband’s side. Throughout the novel, Edna goes through a rebirth of self-expression and independence. After her vacation, Edna goes back home a changed woman.
Back home, Edna continues to paint and disregards her social responsibilities. Her husband begins to notice her odd behavior, and seeks advice from the family doctor, but is advised to just let her be,” She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted. She wondered if her husband had ever spoken to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his command. Of course she had; she...