Throughout the book Chopin locates and analyzes the reasons for the conditions of women in the society Edna lives in. Promoting ideas of individuality and criticizing conformity Chopin uses how each woman fits into or doesn’t fit into the society around her to promote certain ideas.
The analyzation of the cultural and social content leads us to believe that Chopin is criticizing the expectations of women how they are viewed. “A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before. (10. 7)” Women in that time were expected to follow a unspoken rules for behavior and appearance. Due to those rules a women’s ability to make choices solely for her own good was rare. Through Edna wanting to surpass existing beliefs of Women’s behavior, Chopin criticizes how these beliefs have limited and hindered women from achieving their full potential.
Opposite from the social criticism, through Edna, Chopin uses this book to promote the independence, individuality and empowerment of women. “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth…(26. 236)” Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna that to survive the hardship and backlash she will face acting upon her untraditional feelings, she must be mentally and physically strong, which Edna is not. Through this quote we see the conflict between a desire for independence and the restraining society norms.
Since the book is centered around how Edna became a defiant and confused young woman due to society, I believe that Chopin was using the book to promote her feminist ideals. Because of the way Edna chooses unconventional ideals over the norm such as individuality over conformity, Chopin uses this defiance as criticism of the society.