Feminist criticism can be difficult to navigate, especially given the sociopolitical contexts connected to feminism all throughout history. In literature, idealized feminist characterizations can often leave less dramatically feminist characters behind, relegating them to a category of characters who are “not feminist enough.” But it is important to understand that these characters are still just as validly feminist as their dramatically feminist counterparts. In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, readers see wonderful examples of women who operate in feminist ways, some within the roles that traditional feminist criticism would see as roles which trap them and prevent them from expressing their feminist identity to the fullest. Instead of viewing their “confines” as roles which they must escape in order to truly express their feminist identities, these women operate within them, revealing a feminist expression and agency that shines through their “restrictions.”
Funk, Hannah, "Broadening the Feminist Ideal: Female Expression in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Kathryn Stockett’s The Help" (2020). English Department: Student Scholarship. 10.