Free Awakening Essays: Kate Chopin

Satisfactory Essays
The Awakening: Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin was an American author who lived during the nineteenth century, but because of The Awakening, a novel which was considered scandalous at the time, she has just recently been "…accepted into the canon of major American writers"(Trosky 105). Through Kate Chopin’s main character of The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, she is able to portray her feelings and desires that were otherwise suppressed by the ideals of American society at that time. Kate Chopin was born on February 8, 1851 in St. Louis, Missouri. She was brought up in a family that was a member of the prominent French- Creole community. During her childhood she possessed a love for reading. Her favorite types of literature were fairy tales, poetry and novels. She secluded herself for almost two years, away from her family and school in her attic, spending the majority of her time reading (Trosky 102). After her schooling, Chopin spent her days as a belle in St. Louis’ high society. She was greatly admired for both her beauty and wit. She continued her readings, becoming more interested in contemporary works. In 1869, she traveled to New Orleans where she met Oscar Chopin, whom she married. Though married, Chopin remained fairly independent, practicing habits such as smoking and walking alone in the city, two things unheard of from women at that time.(Trosky 102) In 1883, Oscar Chopin died of swamp fever. By 1884, Kate moved with her six children back to St. Louis. Around this time, Chopin began her writing career, writing in periodicals and publishing collections of short stories. She received good reviews and continued to write at an impressive rate. Her acclaim was short lived though, following the publication of The Awakening. "This work, which would eventually be recognized as her masterpiece and a seminal work in American feminist fiction, first proved her most notorious publication and her literary undoing."(Trosky 103) At the time, Chopin’s novel was considered scandalous and immoral, for it dealt largely with a women’s sexuality. At the time The Awakening was written, a novel would be judged on it’s moral message as much as its artistic merits. After the negative response of critics, Chopin published a few more works, but nothing was well received. She received little recognition, which when given, described her as an author of southern local color stories (Trosky 103). Local color writing was a movement which tried to capture the feeling of a particular region through descriptions of local speech and manners("The Age of Realism").