Madame Bovary vs. the Awakening

1801 words 8 pages
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and The Awakening by Kate Chopin both show the life of a woman in a half-dreamy stupor, overzealously running around looking for something but not knowing what it is they are looking for. They feel immensely dissatisfied with the lives they are stuck with and find suicide to be the only alternative. The two books, Madame Bovary, written in 1857 and The Awakening, written in 1899, both have the theme of confinement and free-will, yet differ vastly with respect to the yearnings of the main characters. In addition, Edna and Emma, the protagonists of Madame Bovary and The Awakening respectively, are faced with a conflict between external oppression and their own free will, which eventually leads them to take …show more content…

<br>Emma's struggle toward romantic attachment and fantasy-like perfection contrasts greatly with Edna's need for an unhindered lifestyle. Edna wants to break the label she has been given by society; she fights to do as she wishes. Little by little she breaks free of society's' image. Her yearning to break free from society's image is shown by her shedding of layers of restrictive Victorian clothing, her affairs with Arobin and Robert, and her moving into the pigeon house, the biggest step in her attempt to break away from the social conventions of her time. Edna moved from her mansion to the pigeon-house because she yearned to live on her own, think on her own, and to be an individual, away from obligation imposed on her by society. "Every step which she took towards relieving herself from obligation, added to her strength and expansion as an individual. She began to look with her own eyes; to see and to apprehend the deeper undercurrents of life." (Chopin 165). The move to the pigeon house was an attempt to free herself from obligation to her family and society and was an attempt to increase her individuality, independence, and to understand life on a more profound level. Living on her own allowed her "…To see and to apprehend the deeper undercurrents of life" (Chopin 165), something that she could not do in the confinement of home; her imposed role as a mother and wife disallowed her to do so. By moving into the pigeon