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The power of the phallus in Kate Chopin's The awakening a contemporary feminist reading /

by Bear, Sarah M.

Abstract (Summary)
Dr. Kimberly Coates, Advisor In 1899, Kate Chopin published her only novel, The Awakening. Initially, it was received very poorly and was the catalyst to the end of her career as an author. In recent history, The Awakening has gained much notoriety and a place in academia. It has also been the focus of many literary debates. Throughout time, however, there have been moments where the text seems to have been forgotten, or “shelved” in a manner of speaking, and we are entering one of those moments now. One aspect of this thesis is to keep the scholarships and debates about this novel alive. Much of the scholarship on The Awakening looks at the text through a psychoanalytic lens, but the lens tends to be limited to a Freudian psychoanalytic reading. Since Chopin and Freud were contemporaries, this may not seem initially to be problematic. Many scholars, like Cynthia Wolff, also tend to psychoanalyze the text, the characters, and Chopin herself within this framework. However, despite the large amount of feminist scholarship, psychoanalytic scholarship, and feminist psychoanalytic scholarship on this novel, no one has examined the context of the novel from the perspective of feminist critiques of psychoanalysis. Luce Irigaray provides the basis for my argument when she states, “Woman’s lack of penis, and her envy of the penis ensure the function of the negative, serve as representatives of the negative, in what could be called a phallocentric—or phallotropic—dialectic” (original emphasis, Speculum 52). I argue that Chopin not only anticipated Freud’s psychoanalytic theories, but she also anticipated Irigaray’s critics of phallocentric psychology. Chopin humanizes the damage that a phallocentric society can cause a woman who dares to defy the conventions, and who begins to see her life in her own terms rather than functioning under erasure. iii For Alyssa iv
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School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:chopin kate phallicism in literature

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