A Marxist Review of Edna's Life as Portrayed in The Awakening

Published: 2021-06-30
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The Awakening, is Kate Chopins book published in 1899. The central theme of the book revolves around women issues that made it a milestone work on feminism. The book revolves around Edna Pontellier, a protagonist who is struggling with her responsibilities as a woman and her social freedom.

A Marxist perspective of The Awakening.

The theory developed by Carl Marx delves on the traditional beliefs that humanity and societal needs are destined to change in an economic organization (Kaplon 32). He accepts that the structure of the societal economy does not consider reasoning within the limits of political and social behavior. In the novel, Kate gives an elaborate difference between the economic and social status of the characters. For instance, Leonce stands out to represent the affluent group (Bradley 47). He is established as wealthy and more successful. Therefore, he can marry a woman of his choice at will since the Victorian norms accord him so. On the contrary, Edna, his wife, having grown up in a not well to do family, spent her life all alone during her formative days (Kaplon 37). However, she falls in love with Robert, a young man who has the passion of adopting a higher social class. Edna, however, would not stand this frail of becoming rich.

In a Marxist analysis of The Awakening, interest is asserted in varied ways, which shape the behavioral intellect issues of capitalism. The ways of doing things in a capitalist set up motivated by the zeal for excellence and success both socially and economically drive Leonce Pontellier to abandon his wife Edna and consequently to belittle her as just his mere property. Edna could not take this anymore, and she resorts to becoming vengeful in her dealings. Besides, she is a resentful woman. Ednas realization of capitalists exploitation makes her break out of the unbearable relationship and rises beyond the exploitation. At this point of great awakening, Edna realizes her potential and uses her sexuality awareness to become a real human being (Kaplon 42). As Edna realizes the position she occupies in the society, she uses it to the extent of becoming isolated from the society. Thie isolation happens so because of repression she underwent, the urge to identify oneself overrides her and the situation become unbearable for her.

From the story, Kate points out the underlying contentions within the society. She portrays Edna as isolating herself, breaking away from the classic stereotype advanced by her community (Margraf 102). Alongside Kates thought of portraying Edna as one who breaks away from the social norm, she depicts her as a person who wants to grow within the strict sense of individual autonomy in the society and become independence (Margraf 108). Chopin points to the fact that personal needs supersede societal expectations since they are more compelling and pervasive. Edna leaves her two kids to go on a vacation to Grand Isle, but it is apparent that her thoughts wander on how she can emancipate herself from the bondage that makes her yearn for a new life (Bloom 37).

Ednas life deviates from the societal norms, while it would amount to total reprimand for having chosen such life, Edna is comfortably enjoying herself. As a woman, Edna represents a symbol to social roles, which belongs to women as per the norms; she becomes the most respectable woman who not only identifies herself but also rises against the social injustices (Margraf 97). In the Victorian society, women had their standards of behaviors imposed on them. For example, they were assigned the role of performing of domestic chores and taking care of the family was one of the duties of a woman. Edna got her strength back after falling in love with Robert in respect of fulfilling her sexual desires. Ednas hopes to come out and venture into free life showed that a woman is not a property of a husband.

Edna wants to live alone and gain the status of higher esteem. She desires to live as her friend Mademoiselle who is unmarried but seemingly enjoys her life does. However, another friend Adele Ratignolle tries to influence her to live up to conventional ways of the family (Kaplon 93). The two principal themes of Kate Chopins novel becomes feminism and Marxism; the issues aim to give a comprehensive overview to how life and its dictates shape an individual. Nonetheless, she defies these retrogressive restrictions and connects with Robert, the son of the resort owner. They relax on the beach, which makes her feel alive Edna develops an emotional attachment to nature. She feels that "the voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation (Chopin 17). Ednas decision to venture into a life devoid of restrictions and indoctrination is a typical attempt to extricate herself from the dictates of her tormentors; anyone would envy her because the life of emancipation welcomes her. Her newfound life quickly convinces many like her that independence is the best option for a woman (Corse and Saundra 150).

In the novel, The Awakening, there are several comparisons of how a man is viewed in the context of prestige and being the head of the family. Virtually, every decision lies with him. A good example is when Mr, Pontellier goes out to attend to his business. Men are powerfully placed in the society; the society still holds the retrogressive ideas as the rulers of their wives (Kaplon 75). For instance, Leonce showed this when he exerted power by telling Edna to go inside even after she had declined to leave the hammock. The woman, on the other hand, is perceived as weak and should be submissive and attend to every interest of the husband and the family. Chopin portrays the society as oppressive since the societal beliefs defined a woman role in a weird way, they are mothers, and wives as wells as total dependents.

Alienation is another theme that depicts the life throughout the novel; this is witnessed when unmarried becomes miserable, Edna is very discontented with her later life as well as Mademoiselle is considered strange by men and some women. From the book, one can deduce that wealth is distributed unfairly, as evidenced in the book, the creoles are wealthy, they are fortunate unlike others like blacks, the main characters.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Kate Chopin's the Awakening. New York: Infobase, 2008. Internet Resource.

Bradley, Patricia L. "The birth of tragedy and the awakening: Influences and Intertextualities." The Southern Literary Journal 37.2 (2005): 40-61.

Chopin, Kate. Awakening. S.l.: Lulu Com, 2016. Print.

Kaplon, Megan P. "Kate Chopin's" The Awakening": Struggle against Society and Nature." Inquiries Journal 4.07 (2012).

Margraf, Erik. "Kate Chopin's" The Awakening" as a Naturalistic Novel." American Literary Realism 37.2 (2005): 93-116.

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