What might feminist criticism say about "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin?
Feminist criticism would likely examine the social constraints placed on women in the novel and examine the way those constraints affect the lives of characters and the outcome of the novel. For example, Edna knows very well that she is not a "mother-woman," and her husband, Leonce, reminds her often that she does not quite live up his (and Creole society's) expectations of a good wife. He finds her to be inattentive to their children as well as to his own needs. When Edna gains somewhat more independence, even moving out of the home she shares with Leonce and sending the kids to stay with their grandmother, she eventually learns that her options are still quite limited. She wishes to run away with Robert Lebrun and live, unmarried, but he is unwilling to live with someone else's wife; he will only go if Edna will agree to become his own wife. In this way, nineteenth century marriage seems even more like a prison than it did before, as the real love between Edna and Robert is not enough to...
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