The Awakening and Double Consciousness

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“The Awakening” and double consciousness Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” is one of the most influential yet controversial literary pieces of its time. It is a staple of American Literature and its breaking down of gender roles along with its unprecedented modernist views make it an essential piece to teach in this class. The journey of self-discovery Edna goes through is one that many college students and young adults can relate to; the search for balance between what society asks of us and our personal desires and dreams. Chopin’s story represents a struggle we can all learn from in some way. The first lesson that students can take from this story is acknowledgment of societal control gender roles placed on people. In this story this is personified in Leonce Pontellier. The customs of the time had women oppressed by their husbands, they were often treated like property and this is seen in Leonce and Edna’s marriage. The first example of this happens is in the opening chapter when Edna arrives from swimming out in the sun and Leonce greets her with, “what folly! To bathe at such an hour in such heat! You are burnt beyond recognition, ”he scolds his wife as if she was a child. (563, Chopin) The narrator also lets us know Leonce’s thoughts as he was, “ looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of property, which has suffered some damage.”(563, Chopin) Even though this oppressive lifestyle might seem wrong to us, this is merely a result of Southern culture. Gwendolyn Ullrich states in her thesis, “Leonce and Adele are explicitly exemplified as products of their socialization; they unquestioningly and blindly accept and conform to the rigid, pretentious Southern patriarchal codes without realizing that these belief systems are actually manipulating and controlling their thinking, as well as their life styles. (Ullrich,9)” According to Southern society
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