The application of aristotelian rhetorical appeals in Kate Chopin's The Awakening and "Athenaise"
Kate Chopin has a merited place in the literary canon for her works of realism—specifically The Awakening and “Athenaise”—that reveal progressive messages about a woman’s search for identity. Although objective in her depiction of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening and Athenaise in her short story “Athenaise,” Chopin justifies her support of nonconformity in a patriarchal society as each central character faces challenges in her pursuit of selfhood. This study investigates the relationship between Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals—as defined in his foundational treatise Rhetoric—and Chopin’s application of the appeals in The Awakening and “Athenaise.” By providing extensive examples from two of Chopin’s works, the argument is made that Chopin wrote with persuasive intention by using ethos, pathos, and logos in her depiction of characters and situations in The Awakening and “Athenaise.” Chopin uses ethos in her portrayal of the main characters of each work. For example, it is in the nature of both Edna and Athenaise to be nonconforming. Chopin also uses pathos to evoke the emotions of her audience as she shares the obstacles her characters endure. Finally, Chopin presents characters who operate on reason, or logos, often influenced by societal expectations. This study concludes with a discussion of Chopin’s influences as well as her literary, rhetorical, and feminist impact. The conclusion offers an evaluation of Chopin’s application of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals and a suggestion for further rhetorical study.