Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899)

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) is a turn-of-the-century novel that deals with gender roles and identity. Edna Pontellier becomes the quintessential non-conforming mother-woman who must struggle with her own identity in the Creole society. In a short essay (4-5 paragraphs), you will need to consider the following issues:

According to Chopin’s depiction, how are gender roles between husbands and wives presented in the Creole society? In other words, what sort of role, responsibilities, and behavior apply to the female? What sort of role, responsibilities, and behavior apply to the male? Explain. What is Chopin’s thesis regarding gender roles in society?
Chopin presents characters in each gender who conform according to the expected roles and characters who refuse to conform. Select ONE of the following pairs and compare and contrast the degree to which EACH one fulfills the gender role in society: Edna Pontellier and Adele Ratignolle OR Leonce Pontellier and Robert LeBrun. What are some SPECIFIC examples?
What does the symbol of the sea signify for Edna? What does Chopin mean by these lines: “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude: to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace”? To what extent do you sympathize with Edna Pontellier and her actions?

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