Comparing The Awakening and Story of an Hour
The heroine, Mrs. P, has some carries some characteristics parallel to Louise Mallard in “Hour.” The women of her time are limited by cultural convention. Yet, Mrs. P, (like Louise) begins to experience a new freedom of imagination, a zest for life , in the immediate absence of her husband. She realizes, through interior monologues, that she has been held back, that her station in life cannot and will not afford her the kind of freedom to explore freely and openly the emotions that are as much a part of her as they are not a part of Leonce. Here is a primary irony.
Also, the rhetoric Chopin uses is full of contradictions from the beginning. not only that, but there are so many contradictions of manner, style, Point of view, and all of these both internal and external of each of the characters. For example, Leonce “Pontellier wore eye-glasses. He was a man of forty, of medium height and rather slender build; he stooped a little. His hair was brown and straight, parted on one side. His beard was neatly and closely trimmed,” whereas his sons are described “sturdy little fellows of four and five.” This suggests that he is rather delicate, and that his wife, after whom they presumably take (ils tiennent de leur mere) is sturdy and strong, and can and will take him at something. Another significant one comes in chapter xxix where her interior monologue talks of her “understanding [as]...that monster made up of beauty and brutality.”
Looking at the end of the work and going backwards (I read it this way so I could retrace the steps that lead up to Edna’s suicide, I saw this first time an ambiguity between the seeming freedom she got from transcending the bonds of ...
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Another aspects of the story is that once Edna’s awakening begins to take place, she is on a roller coaster of emotions, from the manic exuberance of listening to music and the sounds of the water, her connection to robert--it’s as though all her senses are opened up. Between times, however, she is really depressed, as though all the color that Chopin imparts so beautifully in the descriptions of the other scenes, has become dull and uninteresting. Then, she is flung into an emotional upheaval when she reads Robert’s letter to Mlle Reisz, as the latter plays Wagner. Clearly, these kinds of emotions cannot be borne by a woman whose cultural structure does not admit the building of her own that it might sustain the weight and number. She is overwhelmed. She must escape, and she does, for her situation now is powerfully reminiscent of the “joy that kills” in “Hour.”
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