New Historicism In The Awakeni Essay, Research Paper
Summary and Analysis to New Historicism in The Awakening
The term New Historicism is not a well stated expression due to the word
new. What is new today may be old tomorrow. New historicism is actually old,
and the best adjective to describe it is historical. New historic critics are less
fact-oriented than critics used to be because they wonder whether the truth about
what actually happened can ever be proved. Therefore, they are unlikely to
suggest that a literary text has a single or easily identifiable context. When new
historicist critics describe a historical change, they often discuss the theory of
historical change that informs their account. Michael Foucault, a well-known new
historicist, says that no historical event has a single cause; rather it is connected
with a vast web of economic, social, and political factors. The name Greenblatt is
more synonymous with new historicism than anyone else. His essay entitled
Invisible Bullets is said to be more frequently cited than any new historicst work.
Greenblatt believes that history is driven by economics. Many critics do not
consider Foucault one of the central influences of new historicism. These critics
do not like his method of work or his critiques on old-style historicism. However,
the boundary around new historicism remains fuzzy because it is always changing
on account of the word new. One thing agreed upon by all historicists is that a
critic must study the author, his or her work, and the period which it was written
in. I believe that this lesson on new historicism is very beneficial. It helped me
learn a lot more about the subject I was assigned to and gave me important
knowledge that is useful for everyday reading. This section about new historicism
is a great topic to learn about.
Margit Stange gives an example of new historicism in her essay entitled
Personal Property: Exchange Value and the Female Self in The Awakening.
Stange describes how Leonce looks at Edna as his property. Edna left the house,
and she made the statement she will never belong to another than herself.
Self-ownership, in the second half of the nineteenth century, signified a wife s
right to refuse marital sex and control her own person, independent of the desires
of the husband. Edna s bare, naked hands show she is not the property of anyone.
Kate Chopin connects Edna to the feminist drive for women s property rights. The
freedom to withhold oneself sexually has its complement in the freedom to give
oneself. Edna not giving herself to her children makes her not a motherly figure.
Edna s death in the ocean dramatizes the self-ownership theory. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton says that when single women die they go to the gates of death to give life
to every man that is born. I think that Margit Stange s example of new historicism
is very well written. It gives me a much better insight to the true meaning of new
historicism. I believe this essay on personal property will help me out as I write my
term paper and as I read in the future.