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Kate Chopins' Awakening is Not a Tragedy

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Kate Chopins' Awakening is Not a Tragedy

When we think of a tragedy, thoughts of lost love and torments abound.

The most human of emotions, sorrow, overwhelms us. We agonize over the

tragedy, and the tragic figure. We lose sight of reality, enthralled by

the suspense, captured by the Irony that, "we know" what plight lies ahead

for the characters. We feel the suffering and the helplessness of the

characters as the tragedy unwinds. Although Kate Chopins' The Awakening

is a powerful story, it is by no means a tragedy. The

Awakening does not posses the necessary components of a tragedy. There is

no tragic figure, there is no tragic plot or theme, and the ending is far

from tragic.

First, tragic figures must captivate the audience. They must create

an atmosphere that is shrouded in irony, suspense and mystery. These

figures must also make the audience love them, feel for them and experience

the anguish and pain they will undergo. King Lear is a great example of a

tragic figure. He appeals to the reader, and captures their attention. The

reader ends up sympathizing for him, and wanting him to overcome the

obstacles which block his path. He motivates the emotion of the audience

and controls their feelings. Edna Pontellier does not have the depth of

character or ability to be a tragic figure. From the opening chapters she

is portrayed as a troubled woman, one who is captured within a society

where she does not belong. Her marriage to Leonce is one of convenience,

there is no love, no passion, and no affection between them. Edna portrays

a woman who is caught up within a life which does not suit her. She is, in

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conclusion, which are essential aspects of all tragedies.

Works Cited

Allen, Priscilla. "Old Critics and New: The Treatment of Chopin's The Awakening." In The Authority of Experience: Essays in Feminist Criticism, ed. Arlyn Diamond and Lee R. Edwards. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977, 224-238.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. A Norton Critical Edition: Kate Chopin: The Awakening. Ed. Margo Culley. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994. 3-109.

Seyersted, Per, and Emily Toth, eds. A Kate Chopin Miscellany. Natchitoches: Northwestern State University Press, 1979.

Sullivan, Barbara. "Introduction to The Awakening." In The Awakening, ed. Barbara Sullivan. New York: Signet, 1976.

Toth, Emily. "Kate Chopin's The Awakening as Feminist Criticism." Louisiana Studies, 15 (1976), 241-251.
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