The Awakening by Kate Chopin

January 5, 2011
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The Awakening Review

Often times many people hear the phrase “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” These would be the exact words of Edna Pontellier, to her husband Léonce Pontellier, the main character of the story The Awakening. This was written in the 19th century by Kate Chopin and published by Dover Publications in1899.Although it was a bit hard to understand Choplin does a phenomenal job in producing a novel that deals with feminism and the separation between her husband and herself.

Edna was a mother and a wife in the “newly” founded America. She was married into a high social status of Creole elite of New Orleans, but she truly does not understand the meaning of the social status, because Edna’s husband was very important. He often did not spend time with the family. Rather, he went on business trips. But there was one vacation that changed Edna’s life. She was vacationing in Grand Isle there she meets a young man named Robert Lebrun. While keeping a close mutual friend relationship with Robert she also realizes that there was perhaps more to life than she lives. During vacation, Edna discovers that she no longer wants to be a “normal” woman and mother in society but wants to experience “life” the way it should be lived!

When Edna returns from this trip she decides that she is going to change. It is a bit of a rebellion; truly Edna has no intention of doing. Here Edna begins to paint and create art. She also begins to “hang out” with her friend more often and sometimes with out the permission of her husband. This also means that she is rarely ever around to be the proper housewife she should be. With Edna’s new “freedom” she visits many people, including Mademoiselle Reisz, who is considered to be a very scandalous person to society. Mademoiselle Reisz is a messenger for Robert, the young man who she met at Grand Isle, and Edna as they continue to keep contact. As time goes on, Edna’s husband begins to get more and more furious with her for being the women he had met. Weeks pass by and little by little Edna and Léonce begin to separate and loose there love.

In the end, after leaving her husband and starting a new life she realizes that she loves Robert and they are attracted to each other. But Robert leaves to Mexico where he believes that there will be a chance to get wealthy. But in reality it is implied that he leaves to escape from the obvious love between the two. After really having no one left to live for Edna decides to take a trip to Grand Isle where she makes a fateful decision that will affect the people who love her.

Edna was a woman who did not intentionally rebelled against what the common women would do, as role in society. She was a woman who decided that she wanted to live life a new different way than other women around her were living. She did not realize that such disaster could take part for her having done this, which is shown in the novel. Throughout the book she does many things that women would not do during this time period. Choplin did an amazing job to write about such a controversial subject at the time. Choplin happened to be one of the very first writers who wrote about how women began to take jobs, work in factories, and not be someone who did the house work. To me this work of Choplin is admirable. For women to be where they are out today, achieving more things men, it definitely took someone like Choplin to prove a point. To prove the point that women can do other things than housework rather work in hard labor, receive an education, or have a “voice” in the world. This book was very difficult to understand but while I got the jest of it, it was a very good plot bringing up a lot of important points that would have been controversial at the time. However, I recommend this book to who wants a challenge!

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