Opression of Women in Literature

The following paper is in regard to Mary Wollstonecrafts novel Maria, or the Wrongs of Women and Kate Chopins novel titled The Awakenings. The two stories have a similar plot and both discuss the oppression of women in the institution of marriage. This paper will include how the two main characters in each story, Maria (in Maria) and Edna (in The Awakenings) challenge the oppressive ideology by finding a new love and how they also encountered problems as long the way.

It was when the face and figure of great tragedian began to haunt her imagination and stir her senses. The persistence of the infatuation lent it an aspect of genuineness. The hopelessness of it colored it with the lofty tones of a great passion. (Awakenings, 1026) A passion that ultimately lost its novelty and was allocated to the shelf that held obscure yet relaxed delightful remembrances. The tragedian keeps fellowship with a visiting cavalry officer and an engaged gentleman. Though, in reality, the gentleman is probably no longer engaged, he will remain so in the mind of Edna Pontellier: one of the images of the infatuations of a little miss.”(1026) With respect to her marriage to Leonce Pontellier, Edna is inhibited, not with the man himself, but with the concept he represents. When leaving Mississippi on Leonces arm, she defied her familys wish that she marries a non-Catholic. Cast to that equation a healthy dose of flattery from her intended and their union is as good as cemented. This is how Edna comes to be ensconced in the inescapable institution of marriage. One would presume that the speaking of the vows would discontinue her youthful allure, but that is not the case. Both the holy bounds of wedlock and the remonstrations of society hail to constrict her. Edna Pontellier experiences one last great infatuation. However, this beat upon her soul reverberates into a feeling that far surpasses what she had previously thought to be the climax of her fate. (1026) The single-tired fantasies of her youth are replaced with a sentiment that matures in nature as her awakening proceeds. Edna realizes that her marriage is not making her happy anymore. She no longer wants to be treated as property. You are burnthe added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage, (1014). Edna is upset; every thing shes longed for has become nothing but a joke. She soon begins her so-called feminine protest by not responding to her husbands questions. She said nothing, and refused to answer her husband when he questioned her. (1017) She begins to find herself by realizing her position on earth as a human being, rather then a piece of her husbands property. This realization is done by the feelings her had for Robert. Robert it seems made her feel human. In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her. (1022)
In the primary stages of the novel there is not very much description of Marias marriage to George. The novel starts off with Maria thinking about her child and she is in her chamber in the madhouse. Immediately we are informed of her feelings for her husband, Was it not to effect her escape, to fly to the succour of her child, and to baffle the selfish schemes of her tyrant her husband? (8) Primarily, the reader is uniformed of exactly what type of marriage was possessed by the couple. The only aspect that is clear is that Marias husband was able to convince society that Maria was mad and she was put into the madhouse and he was left with their children and all her money and possessions. It is clear that Marias problem with the marriage was that she wasnt being treated equally, Was not the world a vast prison, and women born slaves. (11) It seems that Maria is not bothered by her marriage being a failure; there is more evidence that she misses her child and is deeply wounded by that fact that her

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