Chopin's The Awakening: Soul of the Artist Essay example

Chopin's The Awakening: Soul of the Artist Essay example

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Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, is a very artistic and musical work. The novel is filled with references to music and art. In the very first chapter, the Farival twins are playing a duet on the piano. The Ratignolles regularly host musical soirées. Mademoiselle Reisz is a gifted pianist, who often plays for Edna. Edna enjoys music and takes to sketching and painting. Music stimulates her passions. Art provides her with fulfillment and liberation. Her painting, in particular, functions as a symbol of Edna’s fashioning and designing her own life.
As Edna awakens to her selfhood, she begins to carve her own destiny amidst the stifling Victorian society. Similarly, as she awakens to art, she begins to create her own distinct style. Her paintings on the canvas represent her strokes of individuality. Edna discovers her personal voice as she finds her artistic voice. Art symbolizes Edna’s self-expression. Art presents an alternative to domesticity. Throughout the novel, Edna’s progression as an artist is chronicled. She begins as a dabbling imitator and progresses to an aspiring artist. However, Edna’s career as an artist comes to end when her life is engulfed by the sea. By comparing Edna to the novel’s two other artists, the reasons for Edna’s fatal decision can be evaluated.
Initially, Edna is only an amateur, not an artist. She brought her sketching materials to Grand Isle. She “dabbled” with sketching, “in an unprofessional way” (Chopin 543). Her handling and control of her brushes manifested “natural aptitude” not a “long and close acquaintance with them” (Chopin 543). She does not yet take her art seriously; it is merely a means of pleasure. As Edna begins, her art is restricted only to imitation (Dyer 89). She wishes to sk...


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...t her (Chopin 625), but, to Edna, this is the culmination of her artistic endeavors.



Primary Source
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. 535-625. Print.

Secondary Sources
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Print.

Boren, Lynda S., and Sara DeSaussure Davis, eds. Kate Chopin Reconsidered: Beyond the Bayou. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1999. Print.

Dyer, Joyce. The Awakening: A Novel of Beginnings. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993. Print.

Koloski, Bernard, ed. Approaches to Teaching Chopin's The Awakening. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1988. Print.

Wyatt, Neal. "Symbols in "The Awakening"" Virginia Commonwealth University. 1995. Web. 06 Aug. 2010. .

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