Kate chopin the_awakening_presentaion


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Kate chopin the_awakening_presentaion

  1. 1. Nick D’silva’s Kate Chopin’s The Awakening: Creole, consciousness raising, Taboo breaking?
  2. 2. Chopin’s Creole identity. Mother: Eliza Faris French Creole Father: Thomas O’Flaherty Irish Immigrant O’Flahertys supporters Confederacy in Civil War despite living in Unionist Missouri Faris family had deep French Creole roots & O’Flaherty became successful Louisiana based Merchant Kate Chopin nee O’Flaherty
  3. 3. Who is Kate Chopin?: Roles and identities in the late 19th century Number 1 Number 2
  4. 4. Cultural Contexts: “Maternal Commonwealth” and Cult of True Womanhood 1865-1890 approx. According to historian Barbara Welter, the author of the influential essay on this topic, "The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820–1860", True Women were to hold four cardinal virtues:[1] 1.Piety – Religion was valued because unlike intellectual pursuits it did not take a woman away from her "proper sphere," the home, and because it controlled women's longings 2.Purity – Virginity was seen as a woman's greatest treasure which she had to preserve until her marriage night 3.Submission – True Women were required to be as submissive and obedient "as little children" because men were regarded as women's superiors "by God's appointment" 4.Domesticity – A woman's proper sphere was the home where a wife created a refuge for her husband and children; Needlework, cooking, making beds, and tending flowers were considered proper feminine activities whereas reading of anything other than religious biographies was discouraged [1]Welter 1966, Full essay can be found online at http://k-12.pisd.edu/schools/pshs/soc_stu/apush/cult.pdf as correct on 24/10/2012
  5. 5. Modernity 1890-1920 approx: A changing of perceptions: Here Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her 1898 essay Women and Economics [2] and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible provide a neat bench mark: • • • • • Wider scope for women in new professions such as Teaching and Social Work and Journalism Birth Control brings though limited in use-age offers the potential for greater control over their lives for women New styles of dress and codes of behaviour give greater licensce for women to express their sexuality and personalities Improvements in technology and communication enable women to develop female support networks outside of their kin and local areas leading to an upsurge in the grassroots women’s movement Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke to a huge audience in New Orleans. Edna finds a “female colony” or gynocentric space (Stanton) on Grand Isle foreshadowing Perkins Gilman’s Herland yet it is based as Jarlath Kileen points out, on the Catholicconcept of ‘communal and inter-community worhip’ (Mother and Child…158) subverting “second wave” feminist claims on The Awakening More opportunities for women to congregate freely among themselves outside of the home [2] Can be found at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gilman/economics/economics.html correct as of 24/10/2012
  6. 6. The Southern Belle and the French Creole context: • Southern Belle when allied to French Creole Catholic ideal positions woman as paragon of virtue and respectability but also something to be owned- “You are burnt beyond recognition,’ he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of property which has suffered some damage” (Chopin 44) • French Creole Catholic concept of virtue comes into conflict with the sexual liberality associated with New Orleanais women and the two operate in polarity in the novel. Catholic edicts impose a sexual stratification which subjugates women. “The Ratingnolles understood each other perfectly. If the fusion of two human beings into one has been accomplished on this sphere it was surely in their union” (Chopin 106-107) • Catholicism comes into conflict with the Darwinian version of nature which Edna inverts. Nature becomes a destructive as well as creative force yet its viciousness as portrayed by Edna is more concentrated in the female, a viciousness Edna must counter: Adele Ratignolle’s childbirth -“With an inward agony, with a flaming , outspoken revolt against the ways of Nature, [Edna] witnessed the scene of torture”(Chopin 170) Edna also commits the Cardinal Catholicsin of suicide as perhaps a final act against both nature and religion.
  7. 7. The Awakening’s literary antecedents’ and its literary backdrop: 1. Harriet Beecher Stowe,Uncle Tom’s Cabin 2. Gustav Flaubert, Madame Bovary 3. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 4. George Eliot,Middlemarch 5. Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House 6. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 7. Guy de Maupassant, Bel-Ami 8. The Woman’s Bible, Elizabeth Cady Stanton 9. Oscar Wilde, Salome 10. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics Nora: A Doll’s House Getrude Stein’s Three lives not written until 1909 Virginia Woolfe’s A Room of One’s Own not written until 1929 Female writer Male writer Emma Bovary: Madame Bovary
  8. 8. Extract from The Awakening: ‘A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: “Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en!Sapristi! That’s all right!” He could speak a little Spanish, and also a language which nobody understood, unless it was the mockingbird that hung on the other side of the door, whistling his fluty notes upon the breeze with maddening persistence’ p1. Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en!Sapristi! = Get out! Get out! Damnation! • Symbol • Motif • Theme
  9. 9. Critical reception: ‘Miss Kate Chopin is another clever woman, but she has put her cleverness to a very bad use in writing The Awakening. The purport of the story can hardly be described in language fit for publication. We are fain to believe that Miss Chopin did not herself realise what she was doing when she wrote it…The worst of such stories [of actual or implied marital infidelity, abandonment of family and explicit expressions of female sexuality] is that they will fall into the hands of youth…promoting unholy imaginations and unclean desires. It is nauseating to remember that those who object to the bluntness of our older writers will excuse and justify the gilded dirt of these latter days’ Providence Sunday Journal, 4th June 1899, ed., The Awakening, New York: W.W. Norton & Co,1994,p.166
  10. 10. Conclusions: 1. The Awakening can be incorporated into the feminist canon from a “second wave” feminist perspective but is so much more 2. Layer of ‘local colour’ and the taboos these invoke adds a new layer of feminism unique to New Orleans at the time of writing 3. As a novel its themes build on a solid foundation, though mainly wrought by men writing about women rather then as Chopin has done by writing as a woman for women 4. Although badly received at the time of publication it cleared a path for women writers, critical thinkers and women themselves 5. Chopin is distinctly Creole author writing a distinctly Creole text
  11. 11. Group questions: 1. Why can The Awakening be considered more than a work of merely local colour? Do works of local colour hold any value to literary and history scholars, especially in regards to New Orleans? 2. Why should any discussion of The Awakening take into account The Plessy v Fergusson case specifically and other contemporaneous cultural and historical factors? 3. Why did male, European or European based writers tackling the same subjects often in the same manner as Chopin NOT come in for the same critical and public ire as Chopin? 4. From your own critical reading and interpretations can Edna Pontellier be held up as a Feminist heroine and is suicide, figurative or literal her only option at the end of the novel even though as a Catholic it would be a mortal sin?
  12. 12. Fin.