Kate Chopin American Literature Analysis
In the late nineteenth century, when Chopin came of age as a writer, the prevailing attitude was that a woman’s proper sphere was in the home and that her purpose in life should be to nurture and encourage her husband and her children. She was to be, as Chopin termed it in The Awakening, “a mother woman.” Such definitions reveal the dependent, relational nature of woman’s status in nineteenth century America: With no individual identity, a woman was notable only in relation to another—a father, a husband, or a child. Such restrictions were not only socially condoned but also legally enforced, as women, in spite of suffrage movements, did not have the right to the vote and thus were allowed no effective voice in political or civic matters. Against this background of oppression, Chopin chose to air these issues in her fiction and to challenge the validity of such assumptions about “true womanhood.”
Chopin understood that if a woman was always seen in the context of another, relationships became the central issue of her life and, consequently, of her identity. Thus Chopin’s fiction consistently explores interactions between men and women in their daily lives. Many authors of this period were exploring similar issues. In McTeague (1899), for example, Frank Norris studied the consequences for a marriage when the possibility of great wealth is interjected between the wife and husband.
Chopin’s fiction, like...
(The entire section is 2455 words.)
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