Conventions Contra Instincts In Chopin’s The Awake

1092 Words5 Pages
Henry James’s Daisy Miller and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening were published in different times, almost 20 years apart, and their plots are set in different environments, both socially and geographically. Yet, the two books disclose analogy of thoughts that is evident in their main themes. Both works presents characters whose lives are controlled by the conventions of the societies they are a part of. Most important is that the reader is confronted with the consequences of the personal instincts, which are mostly in direct conflict with the commonly accepted rules. The topic of conventionality contra personal instincts is quite expressive in both works. In Daisy Miller it is performed by the character of Frederick Winterbourne, an American living in Europe, Chopin explores this theme by Edna Pontellier, the main protagonist in The Awakening. Both Edna and Frederick are victims of the world of rules and expectations; they are both affected by their personal needs to escape, to liberate themselves of the bonds that repress them totally. The portrayal of this topic in these two books is different, though. The protagonists’ experience is different, they both face the conventionality, but their urge to express their personality emerges from different circumstances. Frederick Winterbourne comes to realization of internal struggle between conventionality and his own personality after he meets a young American girl, Daisy Miller, while visiting his aunt in Switzerland. Frederick comprehends right after their first meeting that Daisy is not a conventional person, whether consciously or out of the ignorance of European manners. The two of them are very different in perceiving the surrounding world. Daisy is spontaneous and naïve in her perception of life in Europe, whereas Frederick is stiff but acts worldly. He is perfectly aware that it is not possible for a young man in
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