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‘An Other of the Other’ in Emile Zola’s Nana and Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’

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  1. Introduction
  2. Otherness in Nana and 'The Awakening'
  3. Understanding how Nana and Edna defy and maintain their gender roles
  4. The position of being an Other
  5. This balancing between excess and insufficiency
  6. Nana's inability to maintain the wealth
  7. Edna's uneven awakening
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

Emile Zola and Kate Chopin both present texts that depict the fall of a heroine. Nana and Edna Pontellier Naturalistically represent archetypal women of the late 19th century; Nana, as a courtesan, represents the rising lower class, and Edna representing the upper-middle class. Despite the cultural gap between Nana and Edna, their archetypal nature assures that the fundamental aspects of the texts that they appear in follow the formulaic representation of the ?Other.? They are outcast women of the 19th century in pursuit of the financial and the personal ? that is, they both desire independence from dominance, and the means to do so.

[...] Otherness is described as the reference of oneself with another, it is shown that beyond the internal struggles that Nana and Edna exhibit, there is also another Other; beyond the Otherness of Nana and Edna, and the Otherness Reisz and D'Anglars, Nana and Edna position themselves in reference to men, and so these men become the ?other Others? of Nana and Edna. As stated before, Edna is unable to remove the masculine influence on her will, which ends up being her defeat. [...]

[...] An is a person engaging in the reflexive act of defining their identity by another person, where the Other becomes Other as half of a Self/Other dichotomy distinguishing one person from another.? (Van Pelt Nana and Edna become Others because they test the limits of social decorum. It could be said that all characters in the texts define themselves by some other person; however, Nana and Edna define themselves in a matter that prohibits cohesiveness in their socialization. Other characters in the text rely on maintaining decorum, where as Nana and Edna defy decorum. [...]

[...] Zola explains Nana's reasoning as, her infatuation with Fontan, she dreams of a bright, pretty room, returning to the ideals she had held in the days when she earned a living by making artificial flowers and longed for nothing more than a rosewood wardrobe [ (203) Her attempted adaptation is shown to be a shift of ideals, where Nana seeks to revert back to a identity. This attempted reversion proves to be blinding, because Nana's maeliable identity also allows her to be taken advantage of by Fontan, both physically and financially Regardless of her attempt to regress to these old ideologies, she is unable to change the fundamental aspects of her character that cause her to sexually and financially devour after her time with Fontan is over. [...]

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