Society none of them gives the true meaning of

Society argues
that “The Awakening” novel is part of feminism movement. There have been a lot
of research that are based on this novel. Yet, none of them gives the true
meaning of feminism to conclude Edna, the character in this novel, as a symbol
of feminist. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to describe the true feminism
and the limitation of it which is reflected on this novel. When analyzing this
paper, the method of
collecting data and analysis that we use is qualitative research. Meanwhile, we use a psychology approach in order
to understand Edna’s behavior. As a result, Edna’s act actually is only to find
her true self.


Feminism, Gender Equality, Freud’s Theory, Pscychological Approach,The

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1.      Introduction

“The Awakening” is a famous novel which was written by Kate Chopin in
1899. Before the novel was released, women were often looked down upon by the
society. Men were more superior than women. Thus, this novel could make the women aware of regarding gender equality
between men and women. Therefore, “The Awakening” could be a breakthrough
to feminism. Even though many people disagree with the novel at that time
because the novel’s content was considered as vulgar.

Since the
appearance of this novel, society has begun to appreciate the attitude of the
main character, Edna, as a form of gender equality and feminism. Yet, we doubt if the feminism in “The
Awakening” is the true form and purpose of feminism. Hence, we think that this
is an important issue considering many women do not know what the feminism is
for. There is a possibility that these women will demand everything that they
want in the name of feminism.

There have been
many studies on
“The Awakening”. One of them was
written by  Blažková in “The Awakening: Female Characters
and their Social Roles” (2009). Her study investigated how society at
that time judged womans roles that caused Edna’s behavior is considered as
taboo. Yet, Edna fights for personal freedom, equality, and independence as a
woman. Besides that, there is a journal which was written by Montashery called
“Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’ and
the Exploration of Feminine Desire and Expression” (2013). In that journal, the
author argued that a suicide scene is a form of feminism. Edna is finally free
from the expectation of the society. 

than that, there is a study
called “Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; Narcissism in the Suicide and Sexuality of
Edna Pontellier” (1988) by Lehman. In her research, she explained that all of
Edna’s attitude was a form of narcissism, including her suicide. Furthermore,
there is also a thesis by Sherdianti entitled “Self Awareness That Leads to
Edna Pontellier’s Egoistic Suicide in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Novel” (2014). In that thesis, Sherdianti stated that
Edna’s deviant behavior is due to searching her real identity. Sherdianti also mentioned
that Edna commits suicide because the burdens which she feels and her
selfishness. Moreover, there is a journal called “Reading Beyond Modern
Feminism: Kate Chopin’s The Awakening” (2008) by Williams. She told that The Awakening more emphasizes to the
individuation rather than feminism.

Based on the
previous study by Blažková and  Montashery, we get that The Awakening could be a breakthrough for feminism since Edna’s
behavior is against society’s judgment about a woman at that time. Meanwhile, previous
studies by Lehman, Sherdianti, and Williams stated that Edna’s behavior is not
kind of feminism. Thus, all of these study do not explain about what is the
truly meaning of feminism. Therefore, our paper is going to discuss about the
meaning of feminism and compare it with the behavior Edna from the
psychological approach to reveal whether Edna is feminism or not.

to previous studies that have mentioned before, we doubt the arguments which
tell about the behavior of Edna as a form of feminism. Besides that, we
question if Edna really struggles for the equality or she just wants to have
freedom for ownself. Therefore, we focus to prove whether Edna’s behavior is a
real form of feminism and gender equality or not.

aim to analyze this topic is to provide a description of the conceptual
limitation on the actual form of feminism through “The Awakening” novel. Meanwhile, the advantages of the
study are divided into theoretical and practical advantages. In the theoretical
advantage, the result of the study is expected to enrich th insight of the
concept of feminism in the modern era today. Meanwhile, the practical
advantages are expected to be a reference in solving the problem of feminism
and it can contribute thoughts to other parties to conduct a similar research.

In this article,
we use the definition
feminism and
According to Hooks (2000) feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist
exploitation, and oppression.

Based on Ramazanoglu on her book entitled
“Feminism and the Contradictions” (1989) states there are some common
characteristics in varieties of feminism. Feminism is done to change the view
which men is more superior than women. It also has purpose to changing the
worldview between women and men where everyone can have same opportunity to
develop all of their potential.

Besides feminism, we also look for the meaning of gender equality and
reverse the meaning in order to determine how gender inequality looks like. In
accordance with Kristoffersen in “Vision For Gender Equality” (2015 : 23),
gender equality is when men and women have impersonal barriers to achieve
something which means both men and women have the same chances.


We also use
theory about personality
to achieve our purpose in writing this article. According to the book “The Ego and the Id”, Freud
(1923) states that the human soul is divided
into three parts, that are id,
ego, and super-ego. Id contains sex drive and pleasure that does not look at
reality. Id also known as
unconscious part of human’s soul. Id sees that every
impulse of desire must be fulfilled regardless of the consequences. If Id does
not fulfill, then the person will experience displeasure or tension. Unlike Id, the ego performances their desire according to
realistic ways and fulfill their desire according to reality principle. The
last one is super-ego that provide guidance on the assessment of good and bad
behavior based on values ??and morals in society.


Research Method

In this article, the method of collecting data and
analysis that we use is qualitative research. Through qualitative research, data
collecting can be done by library research. Hakim (2000) states that qualitative research is mostly used in
disciplines where focus is on explanation and description such as sociology,
social anthropology and psychology rather than on predictions. Furthermore, we use library
research method. The definition of library research
according to Semi,
which is quoted in “Main Characters Conflicts in Oscar Wildes ‘The Importance of Being
Earnest” (2014) is “a method of doing a research in a
working room or library, where the needed data and information about the
subject matter are required through books or other audiovisual means.” We also search the data from the internet to find some of
online books, articles, and journals to support the topic. All these data
will be used to support our arguments and theories.

the approach that we use is psychology approach in order to understand someone
behavior. Sarumpaet
in “Pedoman Penelitian Sastra Anak”
(2010 : 45) states that :

kita ingin membaca sebuah karya secara psikoanalitik, maka kita perlu
menyelidiki ketidaksadaran pra tokoh di dalam karya, memerhatikan tindak,
perilaku, atau perkataan yang merujuk pada sesuatu yang ditutupinya. Kita akan
mempertanyakan tindak lakunya, ujarannya, latar yang melingkupinya, dan secara
umum kondisi psikologisnya. (pp. 45)

this approach aims to clarify the psychological side of Edna’s character in the
novel. Besides, we will analyze the Edna’s behavior and what the cause of her
behavior is.


3.      Result and Discussion

this part, we will discuss this topic into three parts that are personality of
the Edna character, gender inequality reflected on the novel, also
misunderstanding about the feminism in the novel and in the reality.


Personality of Edna character

first aspect that we will discuss is about the personality of the Edna
character. Thus, after reviewing the content of “The Awakening” novel through
personality theory derived from Sigmund Freud, we find that Edna’s character
belongs to the personality of the Id category. This can be seen in chapter

Without event waiting for her answer
from her husband opinion or wishes in the matter, Edna hastened her
preparations for quittingher home on Esplanade Street and moving into the
little house around the block… There was no moment of deliberation, no
interval of repose between the thought and its fulfillment. (p.89)


this quotation, Edna’s move to get away from her husband without considering
the circumstances of the children she left behind. This shows the
characteristic of the Id personality, which shows that she wants to fulfill her
desire regardless of all the reasons why she does it without considering the risks
that she will face.

Moreover, in the last chapter, Edna tends to follow
her unconscious will. Without thinking further, she gets naked and goes to the
cold sea. She does not think if someone might see her or that she will be

“How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky! How
delicious! She felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar
world that it had never known. The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet,
and coiled like serpents about her ankles. She walked out. The water was chill,
but she walked on.” (p. 120)


Edna also ignores her duty as a mother. This can be
seen from the perspective of Mr. Pontellier towards Edna : “He reproached his
wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not
a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it?” (p. 10). At
that time, Mr. Pontellier is worry about one of their child getting a fever.
Instead going to check their child immidiately, Edna first denies it and seems
to be ignorant.

is free to choose their own way of life, but if seen from the attitude of Edna
as a mother of children, she little role as mother and do activities that she wants regardless of all the
problems that she
faced. But not by fulfilling all desires without being accompanied by logical
reasoning. “Adele, pressing her cheek, whispered in an exhausted voice: “Think
of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” (p.115). This quotation when Edna visited
Adele at the hospital and before she left her place, Adele reminded Edna of the
problems she had come to.

emphasizes which is Edna should aware regarding her behavior toward her
childrens. Edna wants to be free from problems with her husband, but the
freedom she gets sacrifices her role as a mother by abandoning her child from
her supervision as a mother.

Furthermore, she also thinks that her children are
such a burden to her. It can be seen from the quotation “The children appeared
before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and
sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days.” (p. 120)

                        In addition, Edna also has relationships with other
men although she has married to Leonce Pontellier – her husband. She first
falls in love with a young man named Robert. However, Robert goes to Mexico,
leaving her behind. Then, Edna has relationship with other man named Victor.
She even does sex with him without concerning that she is a married woman.

knowing the personality of Edna which is based on Freud’s theory, hereinafter,
we are going to describe the causes of her deviant behavior. There are some aspects that might cause the behavior
of Edna. First, we find that Edna is treated like an object by her husband.
“You are burnt beyond recognition,” he added, looking at his wife as one looks
at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.” (p.
7). At that time, Edna goes sunbathing. Then, her husband seems to be annoyed
because Edna gets too much tan. He feels that he completely owns Edna and has
right to “maintain” Edna as someone he likes. Therefore, Edna herself does not
feel the freedom.

Second, we assume that Edna has been holding her true
feeling herself for a long time. This can be seen in
this quotation :

She could not have told why she was crying. Such experiences as the
foregoing were not uncommon in her married life…An indescribable oppression,
which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled
her whole being with a vague anguish. (p. 11)


Edna herself does not understand what she has been
suffering a whole time. She does not even know that herself is resisting the
reality that happened to her. Hence, we believe that her deviant behavior is a
result of her feelings that were hidden deep down her heart.

Finally, we argue that Edna actually does not love her
husband. She was mistaken her feeling as love. The truth is that she was just
lulled by his kindness. This can be proved by the quotation below :

Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this
respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of
Fate… He pleased her; his absolute devotion flattered her. She fancied there
was a sympathy of thought and taste between them, in which fancy she was
mistaken. (p. 22)


We believe that this is the main cause of Edna’s
deviant behavior. She is not happy with her marriage because she does not love
her husband. In fact, love itself is the base of happy marriage.


Gender Inequality Reflected on the Novel

In this novel, we do not find gender
equality yet. On the other hand, we find gender inequality issue. For example “Authority,
coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to
manage a wife. Take my word for it” (pp. 76). In that quotation, it is implied
that men feel more superior than women. They consider themselves to have a right
to give an order and force their wives to do what they want.


Misunderstanding about the Feminism on the Novel and Reality

Next aspect is about the behavior of Edna character whether the behavior of the
character of Edna shows the attitude of feminism or not. Through the theory of feminism
described in the previous section of this article, in short, feminism is not a
movement to gain privilege as a woman, but rather a movement to gain
recognition that women are given opportunities in terms of developing their
potential. But after we analyze the novel, some of the scene in the novel not
belonging to the feminism. It rather than an act that privileges a woman’s

“If one of the
little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at play, he was not apt to rush
crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up,
wipe the water out of his eves and the sand out of his mouth, and go on
playing… The
quadroon nurse was looked upon as a huge encumbrance, only good to button up
waists and panties and to brush and part hair…”. (p.12)


as a mother lacks her basic duties in keeping a child. The main job is run by a
nanny. Her desire that wants to free from the social rule as a woman that
should obedience to the husband makes her not too aware regarding the problem
of her children. Moreover, she abondon her children in order to release her
desire to be an independent woman and can do anything without pressure from her
husband. Yet, in the reality of feminism, it does not belonging to the feminist
movement. The right feminist movement is to fight for the rights of women as
human beings who are not underestimated by men in terms of work, mindset, and
potentials they have. Women who sacrifice children for the principle of
achieving feminist action are not something that can refer to feminist behavior.

in response to feminist ideals can be seen from everyday life. When a woman
violates a man. When a man makes a mistake, for example the case of infidelity
in China where a wife finds her husband having an affair with another woman.
And then the
woman beat her husband with all-out and do not forget to destroy a luxury car
that was driven by her husband when caught cheating. This may some people
regard as a form of feminism in which a woman acts violently against a man. But
in reality feminism does not mean giving privilege to a woman by allowing
violence against a man. The right feminism is to have courage in addressing the
case of infidelity with calm and independence as a woman. Tough in the face of
family problems is a form of feminism itself.

example hiding behind the label “I’m a woman” when in an unfavorable situation.
When a woman insists on giving a seat to her on a train or on a bus where an
old man has to give up just because of the “I’m a woman” argument. Some
people will think it is not so questionable. However, if one embraces feminism,
such behavior is classified as female domination in a certain case, it is no
longer feminism which in reality is fighting for gender equality.

Furthermore, we also argue that the acts that Edna
takes are not based on her will to fight her right as a woman. Instead, they
are just her clumsy deeds. We can say that Edna is like a teenager who is
trying to find her true self and does everything without thinking further.


4.      Conclusion

conclusion, Edna’s deviant behavior are ignoring her children and her husband,
cheating with other men, and moving to the new house although society has
considered her act as misdeeds. We find that these acts are part of her
unconscious part (Id) since she ignore the reality about the society’s standard
in being a woman. There were some aspects that impact herself to do those acts.
One of them is the way her husband treats her like his property.

we also find that there is gender inequality in this novel. Men tend to give an
order to their wives to manage them. Then, after knowing the deviant behavior
of Edna and the cause of it, we conclude that Edna is not doing that to uphold
her rights as a woman. In other words, Edna’s acts are not a feminism act
although there is gender inequality in this novel. This is because she does it
to find her true self. We also assume that the real feminism is not done to
make women superior than men and neglect duties. In the novel, we find that
Edna tends to underestimate men since she cheats with other men and abandon her
family. In reality itself, we discover some examples of false feminism. One of
the example, take advantage of a label “I am a woman” when they face unlucky
situation. Thus, they want to be tolerated and given privilage since they are a



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