What are some characterstics of the "new" woman in literature from Modernism?just some of her characterstics briefly

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. She is independent--before Modern literature rose to prominence, female characters often acted in accordance with or at the whim of the male characters (Frankenstein's Elizabeth and Justine, the Wright sisters in Huckleberry Finn, etc.) This is why Kate Chopin's The Awakening from the Realist era caused such controversy--readers were not used to seeing a woman make decisions for herself that did not seem maternal or in keeping with female traits.  Chopin helped usher in the new woman of the Modern era, females such as Willa Cather's heroines (O, Pioneers!) and Fitzgerald's Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby).

2.  She is jaded and disillusioned--just like Modernism's new male hero who is thoroughly disillusioned with idealism and unattainable dreams, the Modern female has often "seen and done it all" or still feels trapped in her environment because of other characters who have not bought into Modernism's ideals.  Think of Hemingway's Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises who travels around with other disillusioned Americans never finding satisfaction in anything or anyone. Another example is Minnie Wright from Susan Glaspell's Trifles--a woman whose husband has so stifled her that she murders him.

3. She is dangerous--because of her new ideals and independence, the Modern female character presents a challenge to male characters and readers' worldviews.  Thus, Modern writers who included strong female characters in their plays, novels, and short stories were often criticized as trying to ruin society's morals.  While that seems silly to Post-modern readers, it truly frightened many old-fashioned thinkers who lived during the Modern era.