Essay PreviewMore ↓
"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin recounts the struggle of an end of the century New Orleans housewife to conform to a paternal society and the epiphany which ultimately leads to her grave. Born in Kentucky, Edna Pontellier has unconsciously defied the patriarchal society in which she was raised by avoiding her Presbyterian religion. Once grown, she marries Leonce Pontellier, a wealthy man from New Orleans. A vacation on Grand Isle surfaces her true self whom deeply desires independence. One night she takes a risk and learns to swim, this night marking the first of her several awakenings. She confides in her close friend and secret beau, Robert Lebrun that she feels as if she is an entirely new person. Returning to New Orleans, Edna begins the process of obtaining complete independence, eventually moving into a house of her own. To celebrate her newfound independence she hosts a small, intimate dinner party. Once awakened Edna experiences polar emotions of bliss and depression. Despite her many acquaintances Edna struggles to cope with these unstable emotions and perpetual loneliness that now engross her life. Finding no other solution, Edna returns to Grand Isle and drowns herself in the ocean. Why do Edna’s patriarchal surroundings lead a fateful suicide? Chopin shows how Edna finds the idea of a patriarchal society chokingly preposterous, instigating her to form an amiable interrelationship with the sea, inevitably resulting in a fatal swim for freedom.
Edna holds a set of firm feministic beliefs and views paternal customs as suffocating and unnecessary. “Even as a child, she had lived her own small life all within
herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life—that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.” (14). Chopin shows this dual life many times throughout the book accentuating Edna’s inner-struggle. The very fact that Edna has held this dual life since childhood shows her exceptional maturity and convincing ability to think for herself. Only once Edna smothers her true-self and rational thoughts into her sub-conscious does this become a clear problem, in which she creates a larger false self. It is fitting that she is awakened at such an abrupt time in her life, perhaps quite late, as these sub-conscious thoughts are bound to seep into the mind eventually.
How to Cite this Page
"Fatherly Influence in The Awakening." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Influence of the Sea in The Awakening In Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, the female protagonist, Edna Pontellier, learns about the world. Unfortunately for Edna, the world is defined in terms of love and marriage. This female awakening is really "an awakening to limitations" (Bloom 43). If read as a suicide, then Edna’s last swim is a consequence of her awakening to the limitations of her femaleness in a male-dominant society. But on a metaphysical level, The Awakening's final scene can be seen as Edna's ultimate gesture in trying to grasp the essence of her being. This essay will show that Edna's spiritual journey both begins and ends in the sea..... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
2157 words (6.2 pages)
- Edna seeks occupational freedom in art, but lacks sufficient courage to become a true artist. As Edna awakens to her selfhood and sensuality, she also awakens to art. Originally, Edna “dabbled” with sketching “in an unprofessional way” (Chopin 543). She could only imitate, although poorly (Dyer 89). She attempts to sketch Adèle Ratignolle, but the picture “bore no resemblance” to its subject. After her awakening experience in Grand Isle, Edna begins to view her art as an occupation (Dyer 85). She tells Mademoiselle Reisz that she is “becoming an artist” (Chopin 584).... [tags: the awakening]
887 words (2.5 pages)
- “She wanted something to happen- something, anything: she did not know what” (Chopin). In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, the reader is introduced to Edna Pontellier, a passionate, rebellious woman. Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent how unsettled Edna feels about her life. The reader can identify this by her thoughts, desires, and actions, which are highly inappropriate for an affluent woman of the time. In the novel, Edna has an awakening and finds the courage to make the changes she sees necessary.... [tags: Kate Chopin, The Awakening]
952 words (2.7 pages)
- Illogical, submissive, and sensual are some of the words used to describe the view of women during the nineteenth century. In the novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin tells the controversial story of a woman, Edna Pontellier, and her spiritual growing. Throughout the story, Edna constantly battles between her heart’s desires and society’s standard. The novel shows how two women’s lives influence Edna throughout the novel. Mademoiselle Reisz and Madame Ratignolle are both in their own way strong, motherly influences in Edna’s life.... [tags: awakening, kate chopin]
1258 words (3.6 pages)
- The Nature of Solitude in Chopin's Novel, The Awakening "The name of the piece was something else, but she called it ‘Solitude.' When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore. He was naked. His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him."(47) "All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water...when she was there beside the sea, absolutely alone, she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the... [tags: Chopin Awakening]
828 words (2.4 pages)
- The Importance of the Sea in The Awakening Throughout her novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses symbolism and imagery to portray the main character's emergence into a state of spiritual awareness. The image that appears the most throughout the novel is that of the sea. “Chopin uses the sea to symbolize freedom, freedom from others and freedom to be one's self” (Martin 58). The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, wants that freedom, and with images of the sea, Chopin shows Edna's awakening desire to be free and her ultimate achievement of that freedom.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
836 words (2.4 pages)
- Importance of the Ocean in Chopin's Awakening In Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, Chopin uses the motif of the ocean to signify the awakening of Edna Pontellier. Chopin compares the life of Edna to the dangers and beauty of a seductive ocean. Edna's fascinations with the unknown wonders of the sea help influence the reader to understand the similarities between Edna's life and her relationship with the ocean. Starting with fear and danger of the water then moving to a huge symbolic victory over it, Chopin uses the ocean as a powerful force in Edna's awakening to the agony and complexity of her life.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
871 words (2.5 pages)
- Kate Chopin's The Awakening In Kate Chopin's, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier came in contact with many different people during a summer at Grand Isle. Some had little influence on her life while others had everything to do with the way she lived the rest of her life. The influences and actions of Robert Lebrun on Edna led to her realization that she could never get what she wanted, which in turn caused her to take her own life. In the Creole culture, outward affection and expression were a common thing.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
1261 words (3.6 pages)
- Kate Chopin's Awakening Kate Chopin's depiction of “The Awakening” is realistic as she develops Edna Pontellier’s character from a socially and morally respectable individual to an individual that turns her back on everything closest to her as she births her new self-being. Edna Pontellier struggles between her subconscious and conscious thoughts as unusual feelings stir unfounded emotions and senses. Some of Chopin’s characters lend themselves in Edna’s “awakening”. Through examination of Leonce Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, Madame Moiselle Reisz, Adele Ratignolle, and Alcee Arobin the life of Edna Pontellier turns into her ultimate death.... [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]
1462 words (4.2 pages)
- Awakening1 THE AWAKENING The contrast between an urban and a tropical setting represents the awakening that the protagonist experiences in Kate Chopin's classic novel, The Awakening. At Grand Isle Edna becomes conscious of her restrictive marriage in a male dominated society. Her awakening originates with her experiences at Grand Isle but fully develops upon her return to the city, where she completes her transformation from her roles as wife and mother to an independent woman. The setting at the beginning of the novel is the Grand Isle, a popular Creole island resort.... [tags: essays papers]
1270 words (3.6 pages)
“A feeling of oppression and drowsiness overcame Edna during the service. Her head began to ache, and the lights on the altar swayed before her eyes. Another
time she might have made an effort to regain her composure; but her one thought was to quit the stifling atmosphere of the church and reach the open air.” (34-35).
When it is said that “another time she might have made an effort to regain her composure”, Edna’s thought process can now be compared to that of her childhood, untainted and free. As a wealthy New Orleans housewife she was conditioned to stay poised and firm throughout most situations, but now Edna realizes it is time to acknowledge her needs. She feels the need to “quit the stifling atmosphere of the church and reach the open air”; exactly the solution she found adequate and satisfying as a child. Her escape from the repression of the patriarchal church remains as it did as a child, to surround herself with nature. She views this paternal concept as an exit-less room in which she must quickly find a way out.
Alone in her abyss of contemplation, Edna finds a refreshing breath of life within the sea.
“First of all, the sight of the water stretching so far away, those motionless sails against the blue sky, made a delicious picture that I just wanted to sit and look at. The hot wind beating in my face made me think—without any connection that I can trace—of a summer day in Kentucky, of a meadow that seemed as big as the ocean to the very little girl walking through the grass, which was higher than her waist. She threw out her arms as if swimming when she walked, beating the tall grass as one strikes out in the water.” (16).
This is Edna’s first sense of self as a child. She remembers feeling free and powerful and begins to crave that feeling once more. She views it as a distant, yet shockingly lucid memory. She longs for that freedom that the meadow once gave to her and finds this within the sea. The sea becomes a catalyst for the blinding fury she buries down inside. As Edna dares to take that first swim out into the mysterious depths of the ocean, she is overwhelmed with ecstasy.
“A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before…but intoxicated with her newly conquered power, she swam out alone. She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and solitude, which the vast expanse of water, meeting and melting with the moonlit sky, conveyed to her excited fancy. As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.” (27-28).
After being repressed for so long, Edna grows accustomed to the limited choices and limited emotions. Unexpectedly, this distinct power reaches out to her and removes the blindfold over her eyes. She is no longer numb, she can feel; she feels free. The sea triggers Edna’s mind back to that spacious, satisfying childhood emotion of valiance. No longer bound by society’s constraints, she finds inner-peace and recognizes her true self once more. After Robert leaves for Mexico, Edna loses an important confidant, and relies upon the sea to keep her fresh independent thoughts alive. It becomes her best friend as well as her liberator. The sea is a baptismal experience, which allows Edna to embrace her feministic beliefs. It provides an escape into her world of fantasy, offering lustful opportunities and freedom from repression.
Offering such boundless possibilities to Edna, the sea becomes her bastion and executioner. “There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why, -- when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation. She could not work on such a day, nor weave fancies to stir her pulses and warm her blood.” (56). The unfortunate side to Edna’s freedom is the all-encompassing depression that hits her for periods at a time. The truth is hard to deal with, especially when everyone around turns their heads the other direction and ostracize with burnt tongues. The sea delivers Edna this amazing, euphoric answer, but all the while
handing her a large dose of raw truth. “ The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude”. (108). The same voice that tempts her to jump into the water the night that she learns to swim, is back again, tempting with relentless vigor. More inviting than any other aspect of her life, the sea feels like those green meadows she so vivaciously romped.
“ The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace…She did not look back now, but went on and on, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traversed when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end…She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air.” (109).
The sensuous touch and close embrace unify the matriarchal desires that Edna expresses. Edna feels the safest in the arms of the ocean, in the arms of Mother Nature. In the close embrace of Mother Nature Edna does not feel frightened, she feels safe enough to remain looking in front of her. As she continues to look forward, she sees her home; she hears the insects and she smells the sweet smell that home seems to always carry.
The Awakening is the story of Edna Pontellier’s battle against the paternal positions fastened into society’s standards. The sea offers Edna an alternative route from this oppression. After being awakened to the foreboding truth, she finds a permanent escape from constant conflicting emotions. The sea, which once brought her to life, is now her undulating coffin.