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Impact of the Title of The Awakening
By using an evocative title like In The Awakening, Kate Chopin creates a spark of interest that makes the reader ponder over the events in the novel, wondering if there's more to the story than the text. Chopin's title is as figurative as her novel; The awakening is not in a literal since, as one would expect, but rather in terms of Edna's "awakening" from her life of ignorant servitude to society, which shows that the purpose of her work is to get her readers to think for themselves.
Edna Pontellier's process of awakening is the focus of this novel. Edna's "awakening" begins when Edna starts "to realize her position in the universe as a human being." (page 57) At this point, Edna starts to think for herself. This happens relatively early in the novel, and spans the course of the book. Edna's Awakening seems to come in short bursts, one level at a time. She gains her next "level" when Edna "denied and resisted" (page 78) her husband, which was unheard of in that time. Edna's awakening is well illustrated when she wakes (literally) and asks "How many years have I slept?" (page 85) Edna relates her life to that point to her own slumber, unthinking and passive until she "awakens." At this point, the world is exposed for what it is in truth, not what society masks it to be. Edna fully "awakens" in her own death, finally acknowledging her love for Robert and her own loneliness. When Edna takes her own life, it shows that she no longer has anything to live for, save a love that will never amount to anything. Just before Edna goes into the water, a "bird with a broken wing," (page 175) symbolizing Edna, drowns, as does she.
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The purpose of Edna's "awakening" is to enlighten readers about the roles society places individuals into, and that these people should not accept the roles that they are given, but pursue a life in which they can be happy.