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The Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

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The Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening

In “The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening” Elizabeth LeBlanc asserts that the character Edna Pontellier is an example of what Bonnie Zimmerman calls the “metaphorical lesbian.” It’s important to distinguish between Zimmerman’s concept of the “metaphorical lesbian” and lesbianism. The “metaphorical lesbian” does not have to act on lesbian feelings or even become conscious of herself as a lesbian. Instead, the “metaphorical lesbian” creates a space for woman-identified relationships and experiences in a heterosexually hegemonic environment.

In LeBlanc’s words, “I am suggesting…that the presence of lesbian motifs and manifestations in the text offers a little-explored position from which to examine the strategies and tactics by which Edna attempts to establish a subjective identity.” (237) LeBlanc’s support for this analysis comes from a variety of sources including Adrienne Rich’s article “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience, Teresa de Lauretis’s, Monique Wittig’s and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s wor...


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