American Feminism in Literature (late 1800s) Kate Chopin The Awakening “The Story of an Hour”

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  • Slide 1
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  • American Feminism in Literature (late 1800s) Kate Chopin The Awakening The Story of an Hour
  • Slide 3
  • Women Know Your Limits
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  • Feminism Women break free of the Romantic mold that had come to define their gender in popular fiction Instead of female characters fulfilling the secondary roles assigned to them by male authors, women (and their particular struggle) are given center stage and an interior life by a new and emerging group of authors: women While writing in authentic, often local colors, they also portray the universal struggle for female independencesometimes openly but often quite subtly given the cultural climate Sarah Orne Jewetts A Country Doctor (1884) lays foundation Kate Chopins The Awakening (1899) is a watershed moment
  • Slide 5
  • Social Norms for Women Emphasis on female purity ideal of the "true woman" as wife, mother, and keeper of the home. the home was the basis of morality and a sanctuary free from the corruption of the city. As guardian of the home and family, women were believed to be more emotional, dependent, and gentle by nature. This perception of femininity led to the popular conclusion that women were more susceptible to disease and illness, and was a basis for the diagnosis of insanity in many female patients during the 19th century. Rather than being viewed as a bad and immoral woman, honor and reputation could be maintained by the diagnosis of a medical condition and commitment to an asylum.
  • Slide 6
  • He Thinks Hell Keep Her He Thinks Hell Keep Her What does it mean to be a kept woman 19th century upper and middle class women were completely dependent on their husbands and fathers, and their lives revolved around their role as respectable daughter, housewife, and mother. With so little power, control, and independence, depression, anxiety, and stress were common among women struggling to cope with a static existence under the thumb of strict gender ideals and unyielding patriarchy.
  • Slide 7
  • Those Crazy Ladies Hysteria and Madness Heredity, environment, gender, class, and 'sinful' behavior were commonly identified as causes of mental illness. Classification of insanity, treatment methods, and asylum design were based on these same principles. Physicians believed that they could cure patients if they could alter the physical environment by removing a patient from the city, or by stopping a then unacceptable behavior or by surgically removing parts of the body or brain.
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  • Dr. S. Wier Mitchell Remain in bed for 6 weeks to 2 months No sitting up for the first 4-5 weeks No sewing, writing, reading, or the use of ones hands other than to clean the teeth Bowels may be passed while lying down Patient may be lifted onto a lounge for an hour in the morning and again at bedtime and then lifted back into a newly made bed REST CURE Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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  • Not to make light of mental illness Women did suffer from depression, anxiety, and the likes that in fact are recognized mental illnesses. However, those who spoke out against their defined roles were often deemed as having a mental problem. Authors such as Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, or Susanna Kaysen all attempted or committed suicide which may very well be a reflection of the struggle to break free from gender stereotypes. Kate Chopins Edna Pontellier certainly struggles with breaking free from social norms, those expectations for wife, mother, woman.
  • Slide 12
  • The Awakening and The Story of an Hour How specifically does the heroine rebel against social conventions in The Awakening and The Story of an Hour? Why does her rebellion manifest specifically? Which of her actions seem most shocking to her community? What is the joy that kills? From both works, summarize what is Chopin asserting.