TitleA cameo of Dionysus
NameCampbell, Timothy James (author), Singley, Carol (chair), Blackford, Holly (internal member), Fiske, Shanyn (internal member), Rutgers University, Camden Graduate School,
Dionysus (Greek deity) in literature,
Chopin, Kate,--1850-1904.--Characters--Edna Pontellier
DescriptionFor the Greeks who worshipped him, Dionysus was as strongly associated with undermining social norms as he was connected to the idea of rebirth and renewal. That subversive nature of the god continued into the Victorian Era. For many Victorians--particularly Nietzsche and Pater--Dionysus became both a figure who embodied subversion and a symbol for the denunciation of Christianity and other firmly established social constructs. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, association with Dionysus became a way to laud both the arcane and libidinous aspects of human nature. By examining several of Chopin’s journal entries, it is apparent she was familiar with the god and the strain of radical thought with which he was always associated. Other entries show that Chopin was less interested in literature that dealt with political statements and more interested in the impulsive nature of people and characters. It is no coincidence, therefore, that symbols and images that are always associated with the god--wine and lush vegetation, for instance--are associated with Edna Pontellier throughout The Awakening. By examining the novel with a Dionysian lens, the focus on Edna and her interaction with other characters--particularly with the young Victor Lebrun who literally transforms into Dionysus at her farewell dinner party--becomes less a political statement about a woman denouncing the patriarchal society in which she lives and more about immortalizing Edna due to her embrace of the arcane, Dionysian aspects of human nature.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Timothy James Campbell
CollectionCamden Graduate School Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.