Essay about Kate Chopin The Awakening

Essay about Kate Chopin The Awakening

Length: 2358 words (6.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Kate Chopin The Awakening

To what extent does Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, mark a departure from the female characters of earlier nineteenth-century American novels

The Awakening was published in 1899, and it immediately created a controversy. Contemporaries of Kate Chopin (1851-1904) were shocked by her depiction of a woman with active sexual desires, who dares to leave her husband and have an affair. Instead of condemning her protagonist, Chopin maintains a neutral, non-judgmental tone throughout and appears to even condone her character's unconventional actions. Kate Chopin was socially ostracised after the publication of her novel, which was almost forgotten until the second half of the twentieth century. The Awakening has been reclaimed by late twentieth-century theorists who see Edna Pontellier as the prototypical feminist. A woman before her time, Edna questions the institution of marriage, (at one point she describes a wedding as 'one of the most lamentable spectacles on earth') [1] has sexual desires of her own, and becomes completely independent of her husband. The central purpose of this essay is to assess to what extent the figure of Edna Pontellier marks a departure from the female characters of earlier nineteenth-century American novels, such as the character of Hester Prynne, of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Cora Munro from James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, and the unnamed protagonist (and narrator) of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. How does society, and its effect on women change throughout nineteenth-century American literature?

Society of the nineteenth-century gave a heightened meaning to what it means to be a woman. According to the co...


... middle of paper ...


...le. She strives to find a room of her own, yet towards the end of the novel, she realises that Robert will not follow her in her rebellion against the codes of their society, which would mean that she would live a solitary, and lonely existence, which turned out to be worse than death, in her mind.

Endnotes

1 The Awakening, Kate Chopin, Oxford World Classics, p. 73
2 Ibid. p. 91
3 Ibid. p. 117
4 The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper, Oxford World's Classics, p. 124
5 The Awakening, p. 53
6 The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
7 The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, p. 83
8 Ibid. p. 113
9 Ibid. p. 164
10 Ibid p. 165

Bibliography

Kate Chopin. The Awakening. Oxford World Classics

James Fenimore Cooper. The Last of the Mohicans. Oxford World's Classics

Betty Friedan. The Feminine Mystique

Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Birth in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Birth in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Birth, whether of children or desires, plays a strong motif throughout The Awakening. The four components of childbirth, which Edna—the novel’s main character—recalls as she witnesses her friend Madame Ratignolle give birth, represent major themes Chopin emphasizes throughout her novel. These four components are “ecstasy of pain, the heavy odor of chloroform, a stupor which had deadened sensation, and an awakening to find a little new life” (133). In childbirth, the first three components are necessary to achieve the fourth: the awakening to find a new life....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Powerful Essays
2916 words (8.3 pages)

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening - The Feminist Awakening Essay

- The Feminist Awakening   Women’s rights have evolved over time; beginning with being homemakers and evolving to obtaining professions, acquiring an education, and gaining the right to vote. The movement that created all these revolutionary changes was called the feminist movement. The feminist movement occurred in the twentieth century. Many people are not aware of the purpose of the feminist movement. The movement was political and social and it sought to set up equality for women. Women’s groups in the United States worked together to win women’s suffrage and later to create and support the Equal Rights Amendment....   [tags: Kate Chopin, The Awakening]

Powerful Essays
2101 words (6 pages)

Essay on Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin's novella The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman who throughout the novella tries to find herself. Edna begins the story in the role of the typical mother-woman distinctive of Creole society but as the novelette furthers so does the distance she puts between herself and society. Edna's search for independence and a way to stray from society's rules and ways of life is depicted through symbolism with birds, clothing, and Edna's process of learning to swim....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening]

Free Essays
1023 words (2.9 pages)

Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening expresses the difficulty of finding a woman’s place in society. Edna learns of new ideas such as freedom and independence while vacationing in Grand Isle. Faced with a choice to conform to society’s expectations or to obey personal desires for independence, Edna Pontellier realizes that either option will result in dissatisfaction. Thus, Edna’s awakening in Grand Isle leads to her suicide. Edna’s awakening occurs during her family’s vacation in Grand Isle....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Powerful Essays
1346 words (3.8 pages)

Essay about Kate Chopin The Awakening

- Kate Chopin The Awakening To what extent does Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, mark a departure from the female characters of earlier nineteenth-century American novels The Awakening was published in 1899, and it immediately created a controversy. Contemporaries of Kate Chopin (1851-1904) were shocked by her depiction of a woman with active sexual desires, who dares to leave her husband and have an affair. Instead of condemning her protagonist, Chopin maintains a neutral, non-judgmental tone throughout and appears to even condone her character's unconventional actions....   [tags: Kate Chopin The Awakening Literature Papers]

Powerful Essays
2358 words (6.7 pages)

Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening In Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening, written approximately one hundred years ago, the protagonist Edna Pontellier's fate is resolved when she 'deliberately swims out to her death in the gulf'(Public Opinion, np). Her own suicide is indeed considered as a small, almost nonexistent victory by many, nevertheless there are those who consider her death anything but insignificant. Taking into consideration that 'her inability to articulate her feelings and analyze her situation [unattainable happiness] results in her act of suicide...'(Muirhead, np) portrays Edna as being incapable of achieving a release from her restricted womanhood as imposed by society....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays Papers]

Powerful Essays
1495 words (4.3 pages)

Kate Chopin's Awakening Essay

- 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]

Powerful Essays
1462 words (4.2 pages)

Essay Edna’s Choice in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Edna’s Choice in Kate Chopin's The Awakening The text of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening often makes Edna Pontellier appear selfish and unfeeling, especially towards her children. Chopin does, however, allow for the possibility that Edna’s final act may be one of unselfish love for her children. It is Edna’s inability to assume the role society has chosen for her that leads her to act as she does. Edna really had no other choice in the end. It is very easy to perceive Edna as a selfish, cold, unfeeling woman....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Powerful Essays
1646 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Women's Role In Society

- Have you ever wondered what the lifestyles of Nineteenth Century women were like. Were they independent, career women or were they typical housewives that cooked, clean, watched the children, and catered to their husbands. Did the women of this era express themselves freely or did they just do what society expected of them. Kate Chopin was a female author who wrote several stories and two novels about women. One of her renowned works of art is The Awakening. This novel created great controversy and received negative criticism from literary critics due to Chopin's portrayal of women by Edna throughout the book....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening]

Powerful Essays
1498 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Chopin's The Awakening is full of symbolism.  Rather than hit the reader on the head with blunt literalism, Chopin uses symbols to relay subtle ideas.  Within each narrative segment, Chopin provides a symbol that the reader must fully understand in order to appreciate the novel as a whole.  I will attempt to dissect some of the major symbols and give possible explanations as to their importance within the text.  Art itself is a symbol of both freedom and failure.  In her attempt to become an artist, Edna reaches the zenith of her awakening.  She begins to truly understand pure art as a means of self-expression as well as self-assertion.  In a si...   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays Kate]

Powerful Essays
1483 words (4.2 pages)