This is a study of two books, The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Beloved by Toni Morrison. Both authors are women, and the main characters in their novels are also women. However, Chopin is writing from the nineteenth century about the nineteenth century, while Morrison is a modern author looking back at that century. This difference provides two unique views of gender roles in the nineteenth century. Morrison's novel adds the extra variable of race as well. What follows is a comparison of how the two novels portray their heroines as mothers, lovers, and workers.
[...] As with the other aspects of their lives, the differences between Edna and Sethe's work life can be ascribed to differences in race and, as an extension, class. Edna can afford to rely on painting as a profession because she is a wealthy white woman. Sethe, on the other hand, is forced to work to support her family. Both are extraordinarily strong and independent women for the nineteenth century; most women at that time were only expected to be good housewives. [...]
[...] Motherhood, now and in the nineteenth century, was a huge contributor to a woman's identity. As we can see in the contextual documents attached to Chopin's novel, women in the nineteenth century were being told that “motherhood love is instinctive” and “true motherhood always must be her special bright and sparkling crown (Moody We can see that Chopin wanted to create Edna's character in direct opposition to this cultural norm; Edna is definitely not an instinctual mother. Edna's bright and sparkling crown is her own self. [...]
[...] Sethe's later escapades with Paul D are detailed as excitement of giving her his and a brief flashback of the “fucked cows (Morrison Morrison is obviously not afraid of writing about sex in her novel. These are distinct differences in the ways these two authors portray their characters' sexual aspects. Edna and Sethe are both heterosexual women who are able to enjoy sex with men. For Chopin's time, that was shocking enough. However, Morrison is writing in the twentieth century and is able to make the images of Sethe's sexuality more vivid. [...]
[...] Pontellier's complaint that he and his wife “meet in the morning at the breakfast table (Chopin Even Edna's passionate affairs, as racy for their time as they were, now seem to a modern reader to be glossed over in their description. When Edna and Alceé Arobin begin their affair, there is a kiss, first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded (Chopin A sentence later, Arobin is out the door, and the reader can only imagine that sex took place. [...]
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