Fridays are Feminist Friday on Haddon’s Musings; although, I do not claim the title of feminist, I do advocate women are strong. I raise my daughter to be strong and competent, and kind. I believe a balance amongst these three traits is essential. I will also agree, during times of necessity, one trait should be displayed more than others due to the given situation. Wouldn’t you agree?
I would like to bet Kate Chopin might concede with me, at least I would like to think she would. In 1899, she published The Awakening, a scandalous book (deemed so in the 19th Century) that portrays the life of Edna Pontellier who test the boundaries of womanhood in accordance to a misogynistic society. I am thankful for Kate Chopin and her advocacies in The Awakening. And I am also thankful for the bond that women hold amongst each other as well as our power to unite during life’s challenges.
Check out the images below. I think the pictures display Edna’s hopes in the novel: strong working woman, strong mom. We could argue this idea, but I believe she hoped for both representations in her life.
However, the challenge Chopin faced was a society who could not understand her ideas:
“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” (14).
I am thankful women like Chopin forged through. Her strength is commendable, specifically when her book received negative criticism. The public found her novel shocking and tasteless. I imagine she knew many people wouldn’t agree with her novel, but, still, she set these truths free. She chose to sail forward and made a significant chip into how women express their individualism. I would like to share a few significant quotes from the book, and if you would like to comment below please do! Here goes:
“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend which is revealing itself to me (46).
“I’m going to pull myself together for a while and think–try to determine what character of woman I am; for candidly I don’t know. By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can’t convince myself that I am. I must think about it” (79).
I don’t want to spoil the book in case you might like to read it for yourself; however, a few insights may help you understand Edna’s dilemma. Basically, she leaves her husband and her children to pursue a path of self-discovery. Edna has many hopes and dreams, but she feels imprisoned by her current role and societal expectations. Through Edna’s character, we learn of a wife and mother who feels she cannot discover herself without her own walkabout. Like Edna, Chopin meets the world with little support from her female counterparts.
Thus, here’s the lesson: as women, we must help each other soar. So, too, should we be honest about our flight. I want you to consider this quote which I have located in various sections of social media:
“The bird that would soar above the level plains of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings” (79).
I found it interesting that a significant piece of this quote is often omitted. It’s a bit misunderstood like Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Note Taken” and I think we miss a bit of truth and honesty when we don’t fully examine these messages. Here’s the rest of the quote:
“The bird that would soar above the level plains of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to the earth” (79).
See what I mean…changes the message a bit. So what is the lesson here? Stay strong, soar above the plains of tradition and prejudice, but remember…a flight of birds is much stronger than a single bird. Hail to girl power, and let’s not forget to stick together. And for all the guys out there….there’s always room for you on my voyage. 😉
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening: A Norton Critical Edition. Edited by Margo Culley, 2nd ed., W.W. Norton and Company, 1994.