The role of women in society has changed over time. The Awakening, a novel by Kate Chopin, explored the role of women in the 19th century. The main character, Edna, showed how women could break from their traditional roles of being mothers and wives and explore their own fulfillment. Eliza, the main character of the film Motherhood, showed the role of women as mothers, since she was assigned the responsibility of running all of the chores of their home. This essay focuses on role of women as mothers and wives in both the Awakening and Motherhood considering characters both in the book and in the film.
Several similarities exist between the character of Edna in The Awakening and the character of Eliza in Motherhood. Both of them portray the role of women in the society to be that of a mother and a wife. Leonce expected Edna to play the role of a mother in his family. He constantly criticized Edna for failing to take care of their children and not keeping up the social appearance (Chopin, 2010). At one time, he accused her of neglect since she failed to minister to her son when he had a fever. Eliza also played the role of caretaker of her family. She wakes up early to prepare her children for school. She also arranges everything for her daughter’s six-year-old birthday. She is also expected to take their dog out for a walk. The characters of the husband of both Eliza and Edna were similar since they were both busy earning money and thus they are not in their homes most of the time. However, there is a difference on how Edna and Eliza went to relieve themselves from their challenges. Edna opted to swim in an ocean while Eliza travelled to New Jersey to release her stress.
Eliza and Edna changed in several ways while playing the roles of mothers and wives. When Edna listened to Mademoiselle Reisz play a piano, she experienced an awakening and she opted to break away from her traditional role of a woman to a woman who pursued her sexuality. Leonce asked Edna to enter their house and go to bed but she refused and opted to stay in her family’s cottage (Chopin, 2010). She said that she was tired of his commands. Furthermore, Edna started to neglect her duties of managing her servants and she opted to pursue her love for Robert. When Eliza was tired of the many errands that she was supposed to take care of, she left for New Jersey. She did not answer the calls of her husband. Social environment plays a significant role on how Edna was viewed by her friends. Adele thought it was wrong for the relationship of Robert and Edna to continue since she was neglecting her roles as a woman and mother of her family. This is why the social environment of the past expected women to adhere to their traditional roles. Eliza was not criticized by her husband for moving to New Jersey since he understood that she was under pressure.
Edna would have been treated differently in today’s society environment. The reason for that is her husband neglected her, since he was always on business trips. It was not wrong for her to seek emotional affection from Robert. If Eliza were in the social environment of the past, she would have been viewed as a deserter and a woman who failed to take care of her roles as a wife. She escaped her duties and moved to New Jersey. We are challenged to consider the social belief that women should only play the role of mother’s and wives. It is common for most women to quit their well paying jobs and play the role of housewives shortly after they get married. The author of the Awakening caused Edna to commit suicide since she had neglected her family (Chopin, 2010). The director of Motherhood made Eliza to return to her role of a mother in the end of the film.
To conclude, both Motherhood and the Awakening portrayed the role of a woman as a mother and a wife. This explains why the society in both the film and the book expected women to take care of their families without considering their dreams. However, several things have changed in today’s society; now women are allowed to look for jobs and take care of their families. Eliza was applying for an online blog job. However, they are still expected to cater for all their family needs. After reading the Awakening and watching Motherhood, I sympathized on how the lives of mothers were tight. I also felt sorry for Eliza since she had to take everything to her fourth floor flat no matter how tired she was, and the building had no elevator I felt sorry for her since she required assistance from her husband and he was nowhere around to help arrange for her daughter’s birthday.