Perspectives on Love in The Awakening
Though Kate Chopin wrote her novel, The Awakening, in the late nineteenth century, her insight of such things as love, romance, and relationships is remarkably modern. Through Mr. Pontellier, Edna Pontellier, and Robert Lebrun, Chopin presents her opinions of love versus "romantic love." Chopin uses the Pontellier's marriage to predict the modern view of love and the relationship between Edna and Robert to portray the concept of romantic love. These relationships are keen perceptions on Chopin's part of the attitudes toward love and romance almost a century later.
In the novel, Mr. Pontellier and Edna seem to have a very surface relationship. They realize the needs of the other, but neither of them feel compelled to extend more than necessity to their marriage. For example, early in the story Mr. Pontellier decides to go to a club called Klein's. When Edna asks if he will be back in time to eat dinner, he merely shrugs and they both understand that he probably not come to dinner. They comprehend each other well enough to accept this as part of their marriage, but they don't make more of an effort to better their relationship, nor seem to want to better it. Communication, which is a vital part of a healthy relationship, is of little concern to them. They simply accept their marriage as part of life, almost like a duty.
Their marriage seems a product of convenience and societal standards, not love and passion. This type of relationship tends to lead to the objectifying of either the man or the woman, if not both, within a marriage. In this instance, Mr. Pontellier views his wife as his possession. On page 44, Mr. Pontellier tells his wife t...
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...ingle of such infatuation dies, the true emotions between the couple are sometimes questioned. Robert realized that their relationship would not be able to get past the romantic love stage to grow to true love. If romantic love is dealt with maturity and understanding, though, it doesn't have to be ill-fated.
While romantic love can sometimes seems frivilous yet exciting, the love found in today's marriages can be just the opposite. It sometimes falls into a routine. A spouse can get caught up in the duties within their marriage and forget that true love should also be invigorating. The everyday habits, like working, cooking, cleaning, bills, can become tiresome, drawing attention away from the love found in marriage, leaving one under the impression that the problem is within the marriage, not themselves. It is easy to forget that love is a two-way street.
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