The Awakening Questions and Answers
by Kate Chopin

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Examine the critiques of patriarchy in the Awakening by Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin's The Awakening was incredibly subversive and controversial upon its release, in part because of the novel's pointed critique of restrictive gender norms. Chopin uses the novel's tragic protagonist Edna Pontellier to illustrate the detrimental effects of the reductive, moralistic standards that were imposed upon women around the dawn of the Twentieth Century. Chopin explores polite society's reaction to Edna refusing to accept patriarchal norms, and the scandal that results when she abdicates her wifely and maternal duties.

One of the most striking points in which Edna subverts patriarchal expectations is when she moves into a house of her own. She moves into a space separate from her husband and family in an attempt to cultivate an independent life.

However, Chopin shows that Edna's agency is ultimately unsustainable in this claustrophobic, phallocentric environment, and she commits suicide at the end of the novel.

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