Tutor profile: Kathy A.
How does Chopin's The Awakening utilize the narrative of an unconventional heroine to explore gender shape the possibilities for self realization available to women in 20th century America?
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening focuses the on the gender inequality of the late nineteenth century. Mr. Pontellier’s, one of Chopin’s main male characters, reaction to his wife’s retreat from society expertly expresses Chopin’s main critique of gender roles placed on Victorian women: societally obligated roles forced many women to lose their sense of self. Specifically, those traits were to marry young, be a faithful wife, raise children and maintain a home while sustaining a social life. The Awakening focuses on the life of one woman, Edna. Throughout the course of the story, Edna leaves her husband, Mr. Pontellier, and children in order to find herself as a person and a woman. Mr. Pontellier is unable to see that forcing his wife to adhere to the societal norms in their time was not Edna’s true person. I argue that Chopin utilized her protagonist, Edna, as a means to highlight inequality and forced gender roles perpetuated in the late nineteenth century America. This is seen through the few key aspects of this novel that are representative of women’s oppression, specifically Edna’s: the theme of independence from family and the symbolism of birds and the sea.
Subject: US History
Name a group of people in the American West that were / are misidentified by society?
The true lives of prostitutes in the American West, such as Calamity Jane, are hidden within the reputations prescribed to them by others: society and historians. When spoken of, the name Calamity Jane calls to mind a vivid image of a Wild West heroine who was an associate of the infamous Wild Bill Hicock living as an outlaw. These overtly exaggerated stories and reputations are commonly seen in depictions of the American frontier. In modern day, prostitutes from this era are depicted as beautiful white women who were soiled or tainted but could be redeemed by society or as grandiose heroines of the West. Many historians in the past hundred years have told the stories of prostitutes through fabled stories of being extremely charitable, living as an outlaw, leading Sunday school classes at the local church or killing Native Americans. However, depictions like that are far from the truth. Prostitutes of the American West were from a variety of ethnic groups, scrutinized for their body types, alcoholic and living in poverty.
Subject: European History
Can you explain one great change that occurred in England under the rule of Henry VIII? Why it came about? And its impact in European politics?
I argue that one of the greatest changes that came from Henry's rule was the religious conversion he instituted throughout England. In order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Ann Boleyn, Henry broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England. This came about not only from his belief that he was betraying the propriety of the Bible, but because he earnestly wanted a male heir. Concurrently, during his rule, religious conversions were beginning to sweep throughout Europe. In his rule, Tyndale's English translated Bible made waves in English life. Henry's enforcement, though not well liked, was following "modern" religious conversation. This greatly impacted European politics because there was definite shift in alliances between England, Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire. England's alliance with a devoutly Catholic Spain broke upon the divorce between Henry and Catherine in turn becoming more aligned with the HRE. France moved between alliances between the groups. Undoubtedly, Henry VIII's decision to split to from the Catholic church was the greatest change that arose during his reign.
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