Why was The Awakening banned?

Quick answer:

The Awakening was allegedly banned by some libraries because its main character, Edna, opposes traditional gender norms. The story explores themes of feminine sexuality and freedom, which were controversial at the time it was published.

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When Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening was published in 1899, it received many negative reviews. The book was controversial because it went against society's gender norms. The main character, Edna, is a woman who carries out more than one affair while being married to her husband. She pursues her desires and refuses to conform to society’s expectation that women should not explore their individual needs and wants. Through Edna's story, Chopin explores the concept of female sexual awakening. The novel suggests that women should explore what they really want sexually and emotionally rather than limit themselves to a passionless, unfulfilling, and oppressive marriage.

Chopin's novel was ahead of its time in terms of what society deemed acceptable and unacceptable. One reviewer even commented he was pleased that Edna commits suicide, saying that she deserved such a fate for her immoral behavior. The idea of a woman having sex outside of her marriage and exploring desires beyond caring for her family was considered wrong. Critics worried that such a book would encourage women to take after Edna. It is believed (although historians have struggled to confirm) that several libraries removed the book from its shelves to appease patrons, or simply did not add it to their collections at all.

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