Was Kate Chopin considered one of the early feminist writers?

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Answered by: Thomas, An Expert in the Book Reviews Category
TITLE: Kate Chopin, Bold Pioneer of the Early Feminist Writers.

Though she did not overtly associate with the women's suffrage movement, nor did she likely refer to herself as a "feminist writer," Kate Chopin was nonetheless a pioneer among female writers of the late 1800s. Bored with the social restraints respected by such pre-Civil War novelists as E.D.E.N. Southworth, Susan Warner, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Chopin sought equality with male writers like Henry James and Guy de Maupassant. Most importantly, Chopin desired to express herself sexually, and in a voice uniquely feminine, during a time in which it was still considered taboo.Modern literary critics can trace Chopin's shift in style to 1895, when she translated a story entitled, "Solitude," by Guy de Maupassant. Compelled by de Maupassant's ability to blend his inner-most emotions with those of his protagonist's, Chopin found a way to shed cultural bonds, and give life to her characters in an approach not dared by her female contemporaries. Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of Chopin's "The Awakening," essentially mirrors the writer's longing to make herself heard. At the time the novel was regarded as being too bold and even scandalous, and lay hidden beneath the proverbial rug under which it had been swept. But today it is heralded as one of the greatest achievements of the early feminist writers; the novel is commonly read by college students enrolled in literary interpretation classes that emphasize different criticism genres like "feminism."

Compared with today's modern "romance" novels, or more brazen works, such as Toni Morison's "Beloved," or E.L. James's "Fifty Shades of Grey," Chopin's late 19th century novel "The Awakening" is fairly tame, and not half as lewd as it was considered for nearly a decade after it was written. However, Chopin's prowess--genius--as a writer radiates through her word choices, sentence structure, and, eminently, through her characters. Like a fast-paced ride on a river of words, the book reads smoothly from cover to cover, much unlike other works of the era, lending credence to the idea that Kate Chopin was ahead of her time. Even today's most condescending reader would have trouble putting the novel down, as it stirs, excites, and compels imagination--despite being a work written over one hundred years ago.Realistically, one cannot study early feminism, or early feminists, without considering Kate Chopin. Like a voice crying out in the wilderness, she expressed herself in ways no other writer, male or female, could. Not satisfied to merely mimic de Maupassant, nor feel constrained by the limits she believed society placed upon local colorists, Chopin went beyond his techniques, and far beyond those of her female peers. Through Edna Pontellier, Kate Chopin immortalized the struggles woman faced when trying to find their own voices and their own, personal identities during a time culture, society, and men in particular, frowned upon any ideals that women could or should express their sexuality and strive to be anything more than housewives. Female sexual expression, something so commonplace in the modern world, can be witnessed in any number of television commercials...

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