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Kate Chopin

Through symbolism, imagery, irony, dialogue and other literary devices, the fiction of Kate Chopin often focuses on the emotional and sexual suppression of women in a male dominated culture. Her most famous and critically received work is the novella The Awakening, a book that Ker (2004) maintains represented ôa benchmark for the transition of American women writers from the themes of romance and contented domesticity to the exploration of the emotional and sexual needs of womenö (1). While ChopinÆs upbringing include life in the privileged St. Louis social class, her role as a southern debutante that prepared her for life as a mother and wife left her unfulfilled. However, raised in a household of women and schooled by nuns, Ker (2004) notes that while she would have been ôinstructed in the basic duties of being both a wife and mother, [including] subordination of self to a æhigherÆ masculine authority, her primary role models were womenö (2). The impact on a womanÆs identity of such subordination, particularly emotionally and sexually, is often conveyed in ChopinÆs work through a number of literary devices.

The sudden loss of her husband Oscar Chopin and her mother within a period of a few years left Chopin with a need for self-understanding and self-identification that we see many of her protagonists struggle with in her fiction. In her first ever story, Emancipation, Chopin uses symbolism to convey these themes. In the beginning of the story the bird is caged, knows its boundaries, and has its basic needs well-met, much as a married wife and mother. However, once the bird exits its cage and discovers the world outside its pampered and familiar confines, the animal learns there is a price for freedom. The bird symbolizes the price women often pay for trying to exist outside the pampered and confining world of domesticity, one imposed upon them by men. As Chopin (1995) writes, ôThe d


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Kate Chopin. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:56, July 04, 2022, from