The Escape of the "Sea": Ideology and The Awakening

The Escape of the "Sea": Ideology and The Awakening The Escape of the "Sea": by Jennifer B. Gray Nineteenth-century feminist discourse was an oppositional ideology, a resistance to obstacles to female fulfillment. The hegemonic institutions of nineteenth-century society required women to be objects in marriage and in motherhood, existing as vessels of maternity and sexuality, with little opportunity for individuality. As critic Margit Stange asserts, "self-ownership" was central to the project of nineteenthcentury feminism (506). Self-ownership connoted a woman's right to have possession of her own fully realized human identity. Inherent in this concept was not only sexual freedom and other aspects of personhood, but also "a sense of place in the community and the universe at large," through love, connection, maternity, and other aspects of fulfillment (Toth 242). Kate Chopin's The Awakening is, as Chopin biographer Emily Toth g posits, "a case study" of nineteenth-century feminism (242). Indeed, Edna Pontellier's first consciousness of her awakening is described in terms that echo the nineteenth-century feminist concept of female identity: "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" (Chopin 57). Her awakening makes © 2004 by http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Escape of the "Sea": Ideology and The Awakening

The Southern Literary Journal, Volume 37 (1) – Jan 11, 2004

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Escape of the "Sea": by Jennifer B. Gray Nineteenth-century feminist discourse was an oppositional ideology, a resistance to obstacles to female fulfillment. The hegemonic institutions of nineteenth-century society required women to be objects in marriage and in motherhood, existing as vessels of maternity and sexuality, with little opportunity for individuality. As critic Margit Stange asserts, "self-ownership" was central to the project of nineteenthcentury feminism (506). Self-ownership connoted a woman's right to have possession of her own fully realized human identity. Inherent in this concept was not only sexual freedom and other aspects of personhood, but also "a sense of place in the community and the universe at large," through love, connection, maternity, and other aspects of fulfillment (Toth 242). Kate Chopin's The Awakening is, as Chopin biographer Emily Toth g posits, "a case study" of nineteenth-century feminism (242). Indeed, Edna Pontellier's first consciousness of her awakening is described in terms that echo the nineteenth-century feminist concept of female identity: "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" (Chopin 57). Her awakening makes © 2004 by

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 11, 2004

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