**spoiler alert** I have tried very hard to understand why so many people like Kate Chopin's work. I read "The Awakening" a year ago, and I am current...more**spoiler alert** I have tried very hard to understand why so many people like Kate Chopin's work. I read "The Awakening" a year ago, and I am currently working my way through "At Fault." I just don't get the appeal.
Certainly, her skill drastically improved in the span of time between "At Fault" and "The Awakening." However, as a writer she is not very good. Her writing is mundane, monotonous, and sometimes just plain dull at best. She had a way of being blunt to an extreme and I don't think I've ever read another writer's work that was so devoid of meaningful character development or description.
As a whole, I couldn't understand why this is considered a positive feminist novel.
This story was hard for me to enjoy because it essentially asks you to feel something for a bunch of characters that don't really deserve your pity or respect. Selfishness reigns supreme in this tale, from the villainous cold-hearted husband to the supposed hero, right down to the so-called heroine Edna.
(view spoiler)[Her husband wants exactly what he wants, what he feels he is entitled to since Edna consented to their marriage, and he systematically turns the children against Edna because he does not get satisfaction.
Edna agrees to be married but is unhappy when it affects her free and flighty nature. She laments not having a connection with her children but also makes no genuine effort to restore a connection with them. She flirts with Robert and eventually they fall in love, and she begins to feel conflicted by marriage and her desire to be with a man she really loves.
Robert is also selfish. He seemingly has no issue with flirting and dallying with Edna right under the nose of her husband, however, he does not want the responsibility of a genuine relationship with her. Once he begins to realize that Edna is seriously considering leaving her husband for him, Robert starts backing out. He plays the coward and travels off to Mexico to avoid her, only to come back and toy with her again before dumping her for good.
Meanwhile, while Robert is away in Mexico, Edna's love is not quite so strong for him to prevent her from taking another man as a lover.
Yet when Robert leaves her for good, her empowerment and strength as a 'modern woman' abandons her with him. Her pride won't let her overcome it, and she instead chooses an easy out by way of suicide. (hide spoiler)]
The choices made by the 'heroine' of this piece do not reflect a positive message for feminists. At best, the 'awakening' that this character experiences is one of an immature girl to that of a slightly-less immature young woman. A true feminist novel would not send the message that the final conclusion made by Edna is the only positive outcome available.
If Edna had truly 'awakened' into a mature woman of her age and with her obligations, she would have taken pride in re-building a relationship with her children, regardless of whether she went back to her husband or not. If her pride would not let her bend to his will or at least attempt to compromise between the two of them, it could have at least allowed her to behave in a manner that would not reflect poorly on her children. Instead she dooms her children to a life in which scandal hangs about their heads like a perpetual rain cloud.
Feminists, truly, are not ruled by vanity, lust and selfish pride in themselves. They want equal rights in society for the female sex across all nations. They want a better, equal opportunity for all their children, and their grandchildren, and future generations. It is not personal selfishness to want a better and fair life for all.
Kate Chopin's character couldn't care less about anyone but herself and her own vain desires. At the heart of it all, in the end she is an incredibly weak woman who was dependent on and crushed by a man who abandoned her. Where is the feminism in that? (less)