The Awakening

The Awakening

Length: 960 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The Awakening

“Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities oppressing into her soul.” (Pg. 42) In Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening the constant boundaries and restrictions placed on Edna Pontellier by society will lead to her struggle for freedom and her ultimate suicide. Her husband Leonce Pontellier, the current women of society, and the Grand Isle make it evident that Edna is trapped in a patriarchal society.
There are constant boundaries and restrictions imposed on Edna Pontellier that ignite Edna’s struggle for freedom. Edna is a young Creole wife and mother in a high-class society. Leonce Pontellier, her husband is declared “…the best husband in the world”, while Edna sits and feels unsatisfied with her marriage. Edna did not respect her husband as the other women did. Leonce condemned Edna for neglecting their children. Edna’s mind was at rest concerning the present material needs of her children. Edna’s thoughts are clouded with her unhappiness, one night she awakes and sits in the night air and cries. She does not know how to explain her crying, but the reader is able to understand that it is because she is unhappy with her life.
Unlike many of the women that Edna is surrounded by she does not worship her husband. In a fit of rage one night she rips her wedding ring from her finger and throws it on the floor. She tries to stomp on it, but her small heel makes not indentation. Later, Edna feels like a child, but the action holds a lot of meaning. A wedding ring is meant to bind two people together through a promise, and Edna wants out of this promise. Determined to leave the life she doesn’t want, Edna leaves her family while they are away and rents a small house.
Edna lives with the knowledge that she is not a “woman-mother”. Her own husband chides her for not paying more attention to the children. Edna’s affections for her children depend on her mood, although she her state of mind always makes clear that she loves them. While talking to a close friend she attempts to explain how far she would go for the sake of her children, "I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Awakening." 21 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Identity and Society's Expectations In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

- In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Edna Pontellier’s suicide is an assertion of her independence and contributes to Chopin’s message that to be independent one must choose between personal desires and societal expectations. Chopin conveys this message through Edna’s reasons for committing suicide and how doing so leads her to total independence. Unlike the other women of Victorian society, Edna is unwilling to suppress her personal identity and desires for the benefit of her family. She begins “to realize her position in the universe as a human being and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (35)....   [tags: the awakening]

Research Papers
598 words (1.7 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]

Research Papers
2101 words (6 pages)

Essay on The Awakening

- Critical Views of The Awakening       The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, is full of ideas and understanding about human nature. In Chopin's time, writing a story with such great attention to sensual details in both men and women caused skepticism among readers and critics. However, many critics have different views with deeper thought given to The Awakening. Symbolism, the interpretation of Edna's suicide, and awakenings play important roles in the analysis of all critics.   Symbolism in The Awakening is interpreted in many ways....   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
728 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on The Awakening

- Criticism of The Awakening      Reading through all of the different criticism of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening has brought about ideas and revelations that I had never considered during my initial reading of the novel.  When I first read the text, I viewed it as a great work of art to be revered.  However, as I read through all of the passages, I began to examine Chopin’s work more critically and to see the weaknesses and strengths of her novel.  Reading through others' interpretations of her novel has also brought forth new concepts to look at again....   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
726 words (2.1 pages)

Love in The Awakening Essay

- 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....   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
872 words (2.5 pages)

Freedom Awakening Essay

- “I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself” (62). Edna tries explaining to Madame Ratignolle that this is something she is just beginning to understand from herself. She does not know why but she cannot bring herself to give up herself for her kids. The author Kate Chopin, who wrote the book The Awakening, explains through her novel societies’ demands and wishes for a woman, such as Edna, with a family. The book takes place in the late 19th century in New Orleans. In this time period however, Edna must become the obedient wife and stay home to take care of her kids and her husband....   [tags: The Awakening, Kate Chopin]

Research Papers
974 words (2.8 pages)

Sexual Fulfillment in Chopin's Awakening Essays

- Society keeps order, allows for advancement, and gives humanity a good face. It also imposes morals, roles, and limits a person's potential development. If someone wishes to reach beyond what society expects of them, they must cast aside social restrictions. Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, feels the urge to cast off the veil society burdens her with and live as she chooses to. The driving factor behind her desire to awaken is her lack of sexual fulfillment. She lives her life following conduct becoming of a woman who marries into the Creole elite of New Orleans....   [tags: The Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
886 words (2.5 pages)

Free Awakening Essays: The Creole Men of The Awakening

- Creole men of The Awakening Thesis: In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening the characters of the Creole men are diverse and different as the character Edna. Most of Kate Chopin’s stories center around a Woman unsatisfied with her position in life, while living in a man dominated society. The three main characters are typical men of that era. Chopin shows the diversity in each of those three characters. Roberts awakening, and the struggle to do what is the right thing. Alcee and how he is carefree and not concerned with society’s expectations of him, and so has a reputation....   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]

Free Essays
3202 words (9.1 pages)

Edna’s Symbolic Swim in The Awakening Essay

- Edna’s Symbolic Swim in The Awakening Reading through The Awakening for the first time, a passage in chapter X intrigued me: Edna’s first successful swim. I begin my close reading halfway through page 49, “But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence.” Her success is sudden and in spite of assistance from “the men and women; in some instances from the children” throughout the summer....   [tags: Chopin Awakening]

Free Essays
528 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on A Futile Awakening

- Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, transcends societal structures and expectations. It deals with the day-to-day realities that a woman must face if she is to progress to full maturation and become at peace with herself and the world. Set in turn-of-the-century Creole New Orleans, it addresses the relentless strength and courage required for a woman to remain true to her convictions. Most studies of The Awakening focus on Edna Pontellier's newly emerged awareness and struggle against the societal forces that repress her....   [tags: Kate Chopin's The Awakening]

Research Papers
3448 words (9.9 pages)

I can't make it more clear; it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me." (Pg. 63) Edna cannot explain how she feels, but she knows that she cannot lose herself to those to whom she is bound.
"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace." (Pg. 18) The sea is where Edna begins her search for freedom. In the beginning of the novel she is unable to swim, despite practically everyone on the island giving her instruction. However, once she does learn to swim she feels a bit of the freedom she wants. While swimming with a large group of people she breaks away and swims as far as her arms can take her. “As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.” (Pg. 37) While it is not far from her husband’s view, Edna feels a slight thrill of panic and then peace in the water.
It is the sea that urges Edna to wander through life at her own pleasing. Edna comes to this conclusion because she compares swimming in the sea to when she wandered through a field as a child. While wandering she felt lost and free, “… sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided.” (Pg. 22)
Edna also sought refuge in other men as an escape of her feelings of entrapment in her society. Grand Isle is the setting for a moment of self-discovery and liberation for Edna. Edna begins to find herself through Robert. Through her stay on the isle Edna learns that she is capable of loving, capable of something other than infatuation. Madam Reisz had a profound influence upon the lifestyle of Edna, along with supplying a pillar for moral support. Madame Reisz plays the piano for Edna, giving her both company and solitude. It is also through Madame Reisz that she is able to keep in contact with Robert. This is done purely through Edna reading the letters that Robert sends Madame Reisz. She tells Edna that Robert loves her and explains the reasons for his leave of absence.
As the novel unfolds, Edna withdraws from her husband while she continues to think of Robert. While she does not see him, she retreats farther and farther into the life with him in her mind. Art becomes the only form of expression that she can handle. Women of the time where not allowed to simply speak out, so Edna finds a way to sound her voice louder than a human voice could. Edna does have talent and is able to make a small living selling her works.
Throughout the novel Chopin presents a character that seeks independence from society. Edna Pontellier represents the rebel in any person, the primal need for free. The sea, Robert Lebrun, and Mademoiselle Reisz are her awakenings to the life that she wants to live and is living. In the end, Edna's freedom takes place in death.

Return to