Date of Paper/Work

Summer 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work



Dr. Laura Zebuhr, Dr. Andrew Scheil, Dr. Alexis Easley


This essay explores patriarchal standards and the male gaze in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, specifically the impact of these standards on Edna Pontellier. It examines how Edna resists the standards placed upon her despite constant surveillance from the male gaze, and also analyzes the ways Edna resists the patriarchy; she distances herself from her role as a wife and mother and develops her own authoritative female gaze. Edna’s female gaze becomes more authoritative through sexuality, silence, and elements of cinematography, and her character can ultimately be interpreted as a Medusa figure who embodies a direct threat to patriarchal standards because she can see what the male gaze is incapable of seeing. And in the same way Medusa is slaughtered or tamed in popular legend, the male gaze consistently seeks to discredit the authority of Edna’s female gaze, explaining her resistance away as either folly or madness.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.