Without a doubt, the author was quite a feminist. Any of her works would blare this. The Awakeningis no exception. Beyond this, there is a rich book with great purpose. I found it quite hard to dig into this novel at a first glance, probably due to my lack of interest in feminism and/or her 19th century writing style.
She did a great job in her downing of Mr. Pontellier; though I may be a male, I did have negative energy towards him. This brings me to a question: what did he ever do? He was a man looking out for the best of his family, providing sustenance and bringing in an income. Sure, he may have been a little ignorant towards the kids, but what man isn’t? I would understand his wife being upset at him if he actually didn’t provide enough for their daily lives, but by the appearance of their luxurious house, servants, and summer home, I would imagine he brought in more than enough for his family. Not sure how his wife sees it, but I consider that pretty much the epitome of decent luxury.
Then we have little Mrs. Edna Pontellier, who starts as an obedient wife and mother. While to a certain extent this is needed in a family, she might have had to much obedience. But then, what if she barely performed enough of her duties as a wife, or just enough to get by? The author’s point of view and beliefs obscure the universal truths of mankind, just as every belief might. I believe women are as equal as men, but the later tend to think more logically than their emotional counterparts, causing some discrepancy in “right” and “wrong.” As far as I can tell, cheating on your spouse is wrong, especially a hundred or so years ago. What gives her, or anyone, a right to act on every impulse, to die rather than guide her children through life?
I consider Robert Lebrun and Alcée Arobin to be symbols of desire and wants. On one side we have true love urging to be released; the other we have immoral, fleshly desires. Our player-wife fulfills both with each man, but discovers that neither last. Robert leaves for Mexico, and when he finally does return, disappears without a trace (A married woman can never be yours.) Alcée Arobin only needs her for a few nights, then vanishes from her social group (lust is only temporary, nothing of it lasts.) These two men bring back the issue of immorality in Edna. Why can she go about doing anything she wishes when she is in a committed relationship? There is such a thing as morals. But then, why would these two men transgress on these morals as well? Robert at least attempted to stop it, and ultimately did. Not exactly sure if the same can be said for Alcée; there’s a difference in falling in love and lust. So I guess that makes Robert a symbol of impossible love and Alcée one of lust. Very well played Ms. Chopin.