Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/8317
This thesis examines female independence in the novels The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The novels were written in the 19th century and both stories feature strong female protagonists, in the ultimate war against patriarchy. The focus will be on Hester and Edna, how they are alike and how they differ in their attempt to break out from the norm and whether or not they conquer the difficult situations they are in. Hester takes on the 17th century era, where she goes against the strict rules of the Puritan elders. Edna on the other hand stands up to the norm of the 19th century, where the “mother-woman” is held in the highest regard. This essay also analyses the lives of the authors, Hawthorne and Chopin, to reveal how relevant their lives were in shaping these literary classics. Through their writings Hawthorne and Chopin disclose how advanced they were in mind and thought. They understood the injustice women suffered through and the need to attract attention to the subject. Therefore an insight into the authors’ lives gives the stories and its important characters a greater and a deeper meaning, and in general how Hawthorne and Chopin managed life in the 19th century. The authors demonstrate that the power of matriarchy lies within the individualism of the woman, and her will to detach herself from the predominate patriarchy. Hester and Edna’s battles concern the need for individual freedom and the need to be accepted as a person of a community, to be valued for the person they hold within despite the nature of their gender. As they fight the set rules of the hierarchy, Hester and Edna establish that women are capable no matter the era.
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