The Awakening by Kate Chopin This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 5, 2011
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The Awakening

“The fire of desire is deep within; unsatisfied, people remain hungry and thirsty.” ~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Awakening, a novel by Kate Chopin, is a fiction book that focuses mainly on the views of women in the late nineteenth century. The Awakening beheld a mix of realism, social commentary, and psychological complexity that inevitable became a precursor to later writers in American literature. Overall, the book provided interesting views yet was a tad bit boring and practically put me to sleep in a few parts.

The Awakening follows Edna Pontellier, a twenty-eight year old wife and mother, as she struggles with finding her place in society. Edna is young, wealthy, and gorgeous yet dissatisfied with marriage and motherhood. In the beginning of the book, Edna and her family vacation in the Gulf of Mexico, where she meets and falls in love with another man, other than her husband, named Robert Lebrun. Robert, however, eventually leaves to go to Mexico to escape from their doomed relationship. At this time, Edna then begins to think thoroughly about her duties as a mother and wife while also acknowledging her longing for freedom. As the story progresses, Edna withdraws from the busy life of society and then proceeds in another affair while her husband is away in New York. Towards the end of the novel, Edna and Robert are reunited only to lead to Robert leaving once again, which inevitably sparks off the tragic end of the novel.

This novel, albeit hard to completely immerse one’s interests in, was an entertaining read and was an incredible example of early feministic work Edna was distraught by her unhappiness with her loveless marriage and her hopeless desire to be free of society’s chains. Despite not being a decent role model, Edna shows how women can step out into the world and attempt to make a place for themselves in a man’s world. Another interesting view includes how Edna reflects how many women and people feel about the way they live their lives. People as the book explains continuously have to keep a fake façade to hide the grime beneath the shiny surface of their lives and are concerned entirely with self-appearance.

The characters in this novel also fascinated me. Edna’s friend Adele, for example, contrasted the main protagonist in a way that she was the ideal woman of the nineteenth century. The two of them compared the two different types of women in that era’s society, the activist compared to the simplistic one who was satisfied with her meager life. Second of all, the character of Robert Lebrun was another interesting case. He deeply loved Edna yet refused to be with her due to the respect he had for her husband. It shocked me how he loved her so much yet would refuse to allow her to break her vows to her husband. Due to his actions and responses to this matter, I respected him and found him to be one of my favorite characters in the novel.

In a way, this book influenced me to respect today’s society more than one may give it credit. Today, women are free from the prejudices for the most part and practically hold the most power in society. They have come a long way since the late nineteenth century and have made phenomenal progressions. The novel The Awakening displays a world where women were meant to stay home with their children and run the household. Reading these things especially how Adele would constantly sermon Edna about being a proper lady reminded me of how today we are active in society and how despite the fact that our world is not perfect, it is much preferable then the late nineteenth century. To be frank, if I lived in this society I too would be unhappy and would find myself feeling similar emotions to the ones Edna portrayed throughout the book.

Even if the novel was decent and fairly interesting, I still would be a bit hesitant on recommending it to others since it was seemingly difficult to become engaged in and was excruciatingly boring in many parts throughout the novel. In fact, it was a miracle that I was even able to finish the book. However, the novel still provided interesting views, intriguing characters, and pushed me to respect my freedom more. All in all, from reading this novel, I can sympathize with Edna and can understand why many unsatisfied people lust for their desires

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