"The bird that could soar above the level plain of custom and prejudice must have strong wings. " (725). This is the advice that Mademoiselle Reisz gives to Edna Pontellier after Edna has confessed her love for Robert Lebrun in Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Although Edna admits to her other enthusiast, Alcée Arobin, that she only "half comprehend[s] her, " (725) the audience understands the true and significant meaning of Mademoiselle Reisz's advice; if Edna, symbolized by the parrot, is set to break from the cage of targets and requirements that culture has placed upon her to be a female and a mother, a predicament faced by many females of the nineteenth hundred years, she will need to have durability. However, as courageous, as daring, and as defiant as she is, society demonstrates to be too strong. As Edna stands on the shoreline in the ultimate world of the book, she witnesses "a parrot with a destroyed wingbeating the environment above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, right down to this" (749). Like the parrot, which is wounded and weakened and has fallen, Edna commits suicide, plunging in to the water as a last and final try to escape the societal constraints put after her. Maggie Johnson in Stephen Crane's Maggie: A WOMAN of the Pavements stocks the same tragic finishing. As Maggie attempts to obtain everything that Edna desperately desires to shed to be able to escape the harsh environment and life of the brand new York Bowery slums, she actually is halted by the limitations placed after her by modern culture for being a "girl of the pavements, " and resorts to drowning herself in a river. By looking at Chopin's The Awakening and Crane's Maggie: A WOMAN of the Pavements, we can easily see how two contrasting female figures struggle to free themselves from prevailing interpersonal forces, ultimately learning about that the only way to truly transcend a life full of barriers is through fatality.
In her article, "THE FEMININE Musician in Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Birth and Ingenuity, " Carole Stone asserts that, "in Chopin's era, childbirth was considered a woman's noblest action" (par. 2) and that Chopin's novel is "radical in its treatment of motherhood because it questions the assumptions that childbirth and child attention are a woman's main vocation, and that motherhood gives pleasure to all women" (par. 1). In The Awakening, Edna Pontellier rejects her duties as mother; she is not considered a "mother-woman, " as she "fail[s] in her work toward [her] children" (Chopin 666). Edna retains a controversial notion of motherhood as she considers her children to be "like antagonists who had overcome her; who experienced overpowered and searched for to pull her into the soul's slavery for the others of her days and nights" and challenges to free herself using their company and her husband's ownership (749). She perceives her motherhood as a build created by society to aid society's patriarchal framework; societal conventions, when it comes to maternity, don't allow for female personal progress and autonomy but demand self-sacrifice to the family. This can be seen when her husband, Léonce Pontellier, scolds Edna for painting rather than caring for the family. He states, "It seems to me the utmost folly for a woman at the top of a household, and the mother of children, to invest within an altelier times which would be better applied contriving for the comfort of her family" (emphasis added, 704). Discussing Edna's recall of her birthing labor, Rock claims that "by shattering the illusion that giving birth is a glorious experience, Chopin disorders the patriarchal framework which denies women control of their body" (par. 2). Stone's premise can be expanded; Chopin further disorders patriarchal society by shattering the illusion that child treatment itself is a glorious experience, as the "job" is transferred onto the set of responsibilities of the quadroons.
We see Edna's annoyance with motherly anticipations set by society as she breaks out in tears after her hubby wakes her from sleeping to let her know that Raoul, their child, has a higher fever and must be looked after. The narrator informs the reader that Mr. Pontellier "reproached his wife with her inattention" and "her habitual neglect of the children" (Chopin 665) and reveals society's ways of thinking and its own gender conventions through the next assertion: "If it had not been a mother's spot to look after children, whose on the planet was it? [Mr. Pontellier] experienced his hands full with his brokerage business. He cannot maintain two places at once; making a living for his family on the street, and residing at home to note that no harm befell them" (665). However, in such a patriarchal modern culture, even if Mr. Pontellier did not have "his hands full, " the duty of caring for the children would be positioned on the female physique. The narrator further constructs the idea of "perfect women" as "women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels" and embodies it within Adèle Ratignolle, whose matrimony and motherly role is contrasted with Edna's relationship with her spouse and her motherhood. (667). Mrs. Ratignolle is a mother of three children, "begging to think about a fourth one" (667) and her marriage with Mr. Ratignolle is the perfect "fusion of two human beings" (704).
In distinction to Edna who acknowledges her "inward life which questions" and won't allow her "outward presence" to conform to society's expectations of moms, who not only give up their lives but also their selves to their children, Maggie Johnson in Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets attempts to defend myself against the caretaker role to be able to go up in the public ladder, and break free from the near future that her abusive and brutal mother and environment offer her (Chopin 671). When viewers are first launched to Maggie, she is seen caring, though not tenderly, for her younger brother, Tommie. The narrator state governments, "A little ragged woman dragged a red, bawling toddler along the packed ways" (Crane 6). Furthermore, she attempts to take on the mother role after their mother, Mary, experienced "grasp[ed] [Jimmie] by the throat and make" and "dragged him to an unholy kitchen sink, and, soaking a rag in normal water, began to scrub his lacerated face with it, " where Jimmie responds with a scream of pain (7-8). Maggie asks him, "are yehs hurted much, Jimmie?" and "will I wash deh blood vessels?" (8). After he replies "no" to each question, she commences to ask Jimmie if she can do something else for him, but he interrupts her with a risk to the individual that conquer him up (9). These motherly duties are forced after Maggie as her mother's alcoholism has rendered her not capable of fulfilling her responsibilities. However, Maggie's own failure to fulfill the motherly role and therefore progress in modern culture is foreshadowed as Tommie, who she actually is depicted as in charge of the good care of at the commencement of the novel, dies at a young age so that as Maggie simply breaks a plate while trying to wash dishes.
The Pontelliers possessed a very alluring home on Esplanade Road in New Orleans. It had been a large, double cottage, with a board front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the sloping roof. The home was painted a dazzling white; the outside shutters or jalousies, were green. In the yard, which was placed scrupulously cool, were bouquets and plants of each description which flourish in South Louisiana. Within entrance doors the sessions were perfect after the classic type. The softest floor coverings covered the floor surfaces; rich and tasteful draperies hug at windows and doors. There were paintings preferred with wisdom and discrimination upon the wall surfaces. The cut glass, the metallic, the heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of several women whose husbands were less generous than Mr. Pontellier. (Chopin 699)
However, as luxurious and luxurious the home is, Edna chooses to move to a "pigeon" house, "just a little four-room house around the corner" that "looks so inviting, so welcoming and restful" (722). She explains to Mademoiselle Reisz that she desires to move because she is tired of caring for Mr. Pontellier's house. She claims, "It never appeared like mine in any case- like home. It's too much trouble. I have to keep way too many servants. I am worn out bothering with them" (722). Furthermore, Edna wishes freedom and self-reliance as she desires to give herself; she tells Mademoiselle Reiz, "the home, the money that provides for it, are not mine" (722). By making profits through offering her paintings and participating in the male's activity of playing in equine races, she is able to concern social rules and go on her own in the pigeon house.
Edna's indifference to performances further shows her rejections of societal conventions. When she decides to be absent from Mr. Pontellier's home on her behalf reception day, Mr. Pontellier scolds her for not observing "les convenances" or "the communal conventions" (700). He explains to Edna that "it's just such seeming trifles that we've got to take significantly, such things count number" (700). Furthermore, her rejection of public appearances can be seen when she instructs Léonce, "Don't allow us get anything new; you are too extravagant" as he searches for new fixtures because of their library. Edna's behaviour towards outward performances and her house are significantly contrasted with that of Maggie's. In comparison to Edna, who dislikes her ostentatiously ornamented and high house, Maggie desires to have one.
Maggie lives in the impoverished Bowery area within the close-living tenements and "gloomy region" (Crane 56) in New York. Her tenement is filled with "broken door-panels" (12), "gruesome doorways" (6, 7, 11, 25, 29), and "cold, gloomy halls" (7), which is immediately contrasted with Edna's spacious and "envious" house (Chopin 699). The narrator explains the home through Maggie's thoughts:
Maggie contemplated the dark, dust-stained walled, and the scant and crude furniture of her home. A clock, in a splintered and battered oblong box of varnished solid wood, she suddenly regarded as an abomination. She known that it solution raspingly. The almost vanished blossoms in the carpet-pattern, she conceived to be recently hideous. Some faint efforts she had made out of blue ribbon, to freshen the appearance of any dingy curtain, she now noticed to be piteous. (Crane 20)
Aligned with society's and Mr. Pontellier's ideals in the physical and materialistic, Maggie is excessively concerned with performances; this is visible by the fact that she attempted to "freshen the looks" of the drape with a "blue ribbon" (20). Furthermore, as she expected Pete's return to her house, "she put in a few of her week's pay in the purchase of flowered cretonne for a lambrequin" (21). Her concern for appearance is portrayed through her activities: "She analyzed [the lambrequin] with agonizing anxiety from different points in the area. She wanted it to look well on Weekend evening when, perhaps, Jimmie's friend would come" (21). In comparison to Edna, who provides her paintings and attends races in order to live independently and diverge from the cultural constraints of relationship, Maggie becomes hired "in an establishment where they made collars and cuffs, " (17) to be able to reject the alternative job of young ladies in the New York slums: prostitution. Her brother instructs her, "Mag, I'll notify yeh dis! See? Yeh've edder acquired teh go teh hell or go teh work!" (17). Maggie takes a job, because she actually is "diff'ent" from the women of the Bowery; she really wants to progress in world (34).
In his article, "Romantic Imagery in Kate Chopin's The Awakening" Donald A. Ringe claims that "the men to whom [Edna] is drawn to before her relationship are either such as might inflame a younger looking creativity (the cavalry official and the tragedian), or the kind she is advised she should never covet (the young man who is engaged to the lady on the neighboring plantation). Forbidden fruits seems to charm to her most" (586). In accordance with Ringe's statements, Edna's relationship with Léonce Pontellier originated out of her "youthful imagination" and the concept of "forbidden berries" (Ringe 586). The narrator with the Awakening even claims that "[Edna's] marriage with Léonce Pontellier was simply an accident" and resulted from her secret interest for him, his overall devotion towards her, and the "violent opposition of her dad and her sister Margaret to her matrimony with a Catholic" (Chopin 674-675). Edna's choice to marry Mr. Pontellier partially because her family opposed it, exemplifies another manner in which Edna resists expert and benchmarks of modern culture. Ringe further can be applied his theories to the other men of Edna's life, ascertaining that "one suspects that the appeal of Alcée Arobin and of Robert Lebrun derives from the actual fact that she understands she shouldn't become involved with them. The effect is the fact she either eventually ends up as a ownership- and both Léonce and Alcée treat her as one- or she actually is herself overcome with the desire to own another. Both interactions are, of course, carefully destructive" (586).
The cause of the destruction of the Pontellier relationship is signaled within Mr. Pontellier's name: Léonce. The name brings about images of "lions" and by expansion words associated with the canine, such as "king, " "power, " and "authority, " which immediately foreshadows his identity and role in the marriage. Mr. Pontellier is an extremely prosperous and respected entrepreneur, who often leaves his family and home for business. Even when he's not away, however, he still remains faraway from his partner and two children, as portrayed at the start of the book when the Pontellier family is on vacation in the Grand Isle. Mr. Pontellier sits by himself on the wicker seat at "his own cottage", while we witness Robert Lebrun and Edna approaching alongside one another (661-662). Edna's dissatisfaction with her matrimony and life also develops out of the idea that her husband's and her romance lacks communication and passion. For instance, after arriving to the cottage, Edna, "silently reached out to [her partner], and he, understanding, needed the wedding rings from his vest pocket and fallen them into her open palm" (662). Furthermore, as she and Robert relay a tale of an event that occurred while in the drinking water, Mr. Pontellier "yawned and extended himself, " increased and remaining to gamble at Klein's (663).
Léonce's insufficient communication and love with his wife is contrasted with Robert Lebrun and Edna's romantic relationship as "they chatted incessantly: about the items around them; their amusing excursion out in the normal water. ; about the blowing wind, the trees, individuals who had opted to the Chênière; about the children playing croquet under the oaks, and the Farival twins" (663). Robert Lebrun is further contrasted with Mr. Pontellier as "he amused himself with the little Pontellier children, who have been very fond him, " whereas Mr. Pontellier only promised but forgot "to bring [his children] again bonbons and peanuts" (663-664). However, even though Robert and Edna profess their love for the other person privately and Edna boasts that she is her own ownership and can provide herself as she pleases, Robert leaves Edna, knowing that she really is "not free" and that she belongs to Léonce Pontellier (744-745). He leaves her because he is in love with her, refusing to taint her name and period of time social requirements (745). Although Edna experiences an awakening as she gradually discovers her inward personal and learns how to swim out into the ocean, she encounters another awakening when she discovers and reads the notice kept by Robert; she awakens to the actual fact that the social conventions governing women are inescapable.
Similar to Edna, who gets into ultimately destructive relationships where she rejects the interpersonal standard of fidelity within matrimony, Maggie enters a harmful relationship with Pete in hopes of escaping slum life through relationship. In her sight, Pete is the "the beau ideal of a guy, " an "aristocratic person" of riches and culture (19). She thinks that he has "great amounts of money to invest" which "his closet [is] prodigiously expensive" (21). Whereas Edna denies the male expert that her daddy, the Colonel, talks of when he asserts that, "authority, coercion are what is needed" and that the "only way to manage a better half" is by "put[ting] your foot down good and hard (Chopin 716), Maggie eagerly and willingly accepts male authority as the narrator states that Maggie believed that Pete had "the correct sense of his personal superiority" (Crane 18). She saw him as "a knight", expecting him to save her from the slums (20). In Ringe's conditions, Pete "inflame[d] a younger looking creativity" (Ringe 586) by captivating and impressing her, taking her to places of "golden glitter" and "entertainment of many hues and many melodies" (Crane 21), instilling within Maggie, the belief that "the indegent and virtuous eventually surmounted the prosperous and the wicked" (28). After Mary prohibits Maggie from living within her house and explains to her to "go teh hell" (32) when she realizes about the relationship between Maggie and Pete, Maggie becomes completely dependent on her "leonine Pete" (47), her "lion of lordly characteristics" (4). As opposed to Edna, she allows and even dreams the submissive role that patriarchal society has defined for women. The narrator expresses, "her life was Pete's and she considered him worth the charge. She'd be disturbed by no particular apprehensions, so long as Pete adored her as he now said he have" (41).
Pete's rejection of Maggie for Nellie, a woman of "brilliance and audacity, " is what eventually leads Maggie to her demise. His activities illustrate his opinion that Maggie, Nellie, and all women are things of sexual desire. That is even obvious in Pete's first "note" of Maggie, as he only reviews upon her physical appearance. He claims, "Say, Mag, I'm jammed on yer shape. It's outa look" (19). In his article, "Stephen Crane's 'Maggie' and the present day Heart and soul, " Keith Gandal claims that "there is for the center class a hierarchy of virtues, and a woman's chastity, a good poor woman's, was highly fetishized" (762). Maggie will not realize that Pete is of the kind of environment that she is trying to flee; he embodies the violence and callousness found in the slums. As Pete leaves her, she believes that all of her chances at life leave also. Maggie's romantic vision to be wedded to a guy of any higher-class is crushed and "her heart [can] never smile again" (51).
Gandal also claims that "the ultimate sin in slum books was a woman's lack of purity" (762). It had been Maggie's lack of purity and the publicized erotic marriage with Pete by Jimmie and his mother that resulted in her being ostracized from slum modern culture. After Pete leaves her, she attempts to come back to the house that casted her away, but is only welcomed by her cruel mom, disgusted by her daughter's impurity, who declares "Dere she standsDere she stands! Lookut her! Ain' she a dindy? An' she was so excellent as to get back teh her mudder, she was! Ain' she a beaut'? Ain' she a dindy? Fer Gawd's sake" (51)! After her mother's announcement to the tenement friends and neighbors, Maggie experience an awakening a lot like Edna. The narrator expresses, "The jeering cries finished in another burst of shrill laughter. The lady appeared to awaken" (51). Like Edna, she comes to realize that society will not allow movement. Turned down both by the slum society and Pete, she is faced with the reality that she'll never marry, her only means to get away from, and resorts to prostitution and then suicide.
Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Stephen Crane's Maggie: A WOMAN of the Streets illustrate the inescapable, dangerous forces of society. Maggie, a poor young lady of the pavements, attempts to break free from the slum-life and progress the communal ladder, but fails to do so due to restricted constraints of contemporary society that don't allow for deviances. Maggie has dropped, getting rid of her virginity, and the only path on her behalf to get redemption is through "relationship or suicide" (Randal 763). Forsakened by Pete and the possibility of relationship, she becomes to suicide, drowning herself in a river. In comparison, Edna Pontellier, a female married to an exceptionally wealthy man, is suffering from the same sociable constraints which weigh her down and make an effort to stifle her. For Edna, the pressures of society and its inescapability ultimately results in her loss of life as she drowns herself in the ocean.
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