Creative Femininity

Women and art create a new topic in Modernist Literature. Two good examples of it are Viriginia Woolf and Kate Chopin, both belonging to the first part of the 20th C. Together with the born of the New Woman appears the female artist as a key figure of the first feminism. Two works I’d like to turn to are To the Lighthouse (London, 1927) by Woolf and The Awakening (New Orleans, 1899) by Chopin. What these short novels share is the character of the female artist. In the first case, a not-married painter and, in the second case, a not-married musician and Edna, the main character who finds herself divided between marriage and painting. It’s interesting to see how there’s a dilemma between family duties and art which, actually, remains unresolved in both novels, especially in The Awakening where Edna incarnates the opposition. There’s no chance: either art or marriage. However, the interesting point is that of motherhood. It seems to be incarnated in both spheres; the creation of life could be substitute for that of art. In fact, these artists who in both novels remain single don’t live their condition as impoverish, while Edna experiments the two facts as contradictory. The problem of Edna, however, doesn’t consist just in the fact of being mother and artist, it’s also an expression of being trapped in a society of established roles. In such a case, we’re witnessing a difficult born: the woman of the 20th C. The tow facts aren’t in themselves contradictory but they were made so.

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