The Awakening Essay Examples

Essays on The Awakening

The novel, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, is about the struggle over women’s roles in society. Edna Pontellier is the centerpoint of the novel, as her journey is one of defeat in the face of existential problems that lie underneath the appearance of a normal southern life.

The Evolution of the Opportunities of Women in the Novel, The Awakening by Kate Chopin and the Essay, Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
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Humankind and the world in general has changed during the course of the world’s long history. From a world where slavery and mistreatment of women was thought to be a normal idea of society, this world has changed drastically. Women traditionally stayed home and cared for the children. After World War 2, this all began to change. The opportunities for women experienced a very large increase. In her novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin bases her writing upon a woman, Edna…...
The Awakening
Role of Woman in “The Awakening” and “The Storm” by Kate Chopin
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Edna from the awakening-“but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself” Bobinôt's from the storm - “Bobinôt's explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return”. Chopin base the awakening in the 1800’s now in the 1800’s you listened to your husband and what they told…...
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Symbols in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
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In Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, Edna, a strong, female character lead, ventures out of her comfort zone while breaking through the role appointed to her by society. Throughout the novel, Edna is seen discovering her own identity independent from her husband and children. Edna is seen always harboring unrealistic dreams that cannot be satisfied, thus characterizing her as a rebellious and selfish adult. Edna’s life is symbolized through a series of parrots, mockingbirds, and seagulls that all form personal…...
Kate ChopinNovelsThe Awakening
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Comparison of Short Stories “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Awakening”
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Gilman's ‘the Yellow wallpaper’ and Chopin's ‘the Awakening’ both challenge gender roles which are socially forced in those days and the illusion that men think they are superior to women through symbolism, imagery and allegory. Gilman uses symbols to show her antipathy to the old, unpleasant system and to demand change, while Chopin claims that women are not men's property anymore by showing a woman who is free from all the constraints imposed by society. They deal with the awakening…...
The AwakeningThe Yellow Wallpaper
Social Norms and The Pursuit of Happiness in “The Awakening”
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Historically, society has created irrational (but enchanting) beliefs in order to fabricate reality and make our life extraordinary. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are all strong-held childhood beliefs that are encouraged by parents through tradition. Accepting these beliefs as real set children up to be embittered and disappointed by the natural reality of holidays, yet parents still keep the holiday spirit afloat to some extent: parents buy the gifts; parents fill the stockings; parents lay out…...
IndividualismSocial NormsThe AwakeningThe Pursuit Of Happiness
Themes in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
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In reviewing Kate Chopin’s book, The Awakening, one first takes note that the central character of the story, Edna, is a woman and that she is dealing with issues which can be attributed to the struggles not only of Edna the individual, but also Edna as a female. In considering other themes related to psychology and sociology, aside from gender, one also notes that Edna is a married woman with children living within or among the social mores and constructs…...
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Literature is often about crossing boundaries
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Literature is often about crossing boundaries, both physically and mentally. In what ways, and to what extent, does the crossing of boundaries contribute to Kate Chopin's "The Awakening?" In Kate Chopin's "The Awakening", the author uses physical and mental boundaries which the main character, Edna crosses throughout the story as a symbol for the freedom she yearns and all the boundaries she has to overcome before finally achieving it. One of the most important boundaries when she swims in the…...
Human NatureLiteratureThe Awakening
Extramarital affairs in the Awakening
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  Based on religion beliefs and the institution of marriage, Edna was supposed to carry her "duties as a wife", which was to take care of the children, and be submissive to her husband (Chopin 108). Yet, obviously, this suppression in society caused Edna the ultimate depression. Her crying with no reason was one piece of evidence of her depression. "She could not have told why she was crying. Such experiences as the foregoing were not uncommon in her married…...
FeelingMarriageThe Awakening
Chopin’s Novel The Awakening and Edna Character
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A review of the novel "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin, focusing on the main character, Edna Casting Shadows Happiness; is it essential or is it a mere unimportant simplistic virtue in life's plans? Does everyone have the right to happiness? It is stated in the Constitution that we as Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin the main Character Edna has the "perfect life". The sweet loving…...
CharacterNovelsThe Awakening
Feminist Lens: A Perspective – The Awakening
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During the late nineteenth century, a woman’s place in society was confined to the reverence of her children and constant submission to her husband. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin is a novel about Edna Pontellier whose life was embraced through the frustrations and triumphs as she attempts to cope with the strict cultural demands in which she was confined. This essay focuses specifically on the feminist critical perspective, however, The Awakening can be perceived to also observe the historical or…...
The Awakening
Edna Pontellier in The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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Conforming to a society that you do not agree with but are almost forced to do so will hurt an individual's psyche. This is exactly what we see happen with Edna Pontellier in The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Edna is brought up in a society that views women as second class, women are not supposed to be individualistic, they are meant to conform to the social norm. In the creole society women are supposed to belong to their husbands. Through…...
PsychologySocietyThe Awakening
Impact of Second Great Awakening on Modern Society
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The Second Great Awakening laid the foundations of the development of present-day religious beliefs and establishments, moral views, and democratic ideals in the United States. Beginning back in late eighteenth century and lasting until the middle of the nineteenth century,1 this Protestant awakening sought to reach out the un-churched and bring people to a much more personal and vivid experience of Christianity. Starting on the Southern frontier and soon spreading to the Northeast, the Second Great Awakening has also been…...
ReligionSocietyThe Awakening
Drama Essay: A Review of “Spring Awakening”
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I will be reviewing the play titled, “Spring Awakening” by Fred Wedekind. This play was produced by The Department of Performing Arts and Humanities of the School of Liberal Arts at and directed by Robert W. Oppel. I saw the play on March 20th Q Building Theatre. The play was excellent and exceeded all expectations due to the professional way the story was presented. “Spring Awakening” is a musical concerning teenagers who explore their individual sexuality while living in an…...
ArtThe AwakeningTheatre
What features make The Awakening a “local color” story?
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The Awakening is made a local color story by the detailed descriptions in the dialogue and the depiction of the town with the imagery that is used. Also, in that time period, women did not have a very large role in society so speaking up did not have a large impact. 2. What customs and beliefs of Edna Pontellier's society are significant in relation to her psychological development? In New Orleans, women are supposed to be inferior to the men…...
PsychologyThe Awakening
The Awakening, The Story of an Hour and Desiree’s Baby
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The Awakening: The novel was titled “The Awakening,” because the main character Edna Pontellier goes through a series of liberations that cause her to “awaken” or become aware of her The Story of an Hour: The title refers to the actual duration of the story. All the events that take place in the story can happen in the time frame of an hour. Desiree’s Baby: The title refers to one of the main characters, Armand Aubigny, not claiming his child…...
DesireThe AwakeningThe Story Of An Hour
Religious Revivals During Great Awakenings
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There are many factors that triggered the religious revivals known as the Great Awakenings. These awakenings encouraged citizens to partake in religious ceremonies and activities. Some agreed and joined the bandwagon, some refused. The awakenings had aspects that resulted in great long term benefits in government, education, and society. During the 1730s it was apparent that most colonies had established their own religions. Some strict churches preached that we are all sinful and that only a faithful few would be…...
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Character Analysis of Robert Lebrun
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Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” examines the implications placed on women for self expression during the 1800’s. Banned for several years by critics after its initial publication in 1899 because of its unsettling content, “The Awakening” later became a most cherished account of a woman’s journey towards self-discovery and abandonment of her conventional society. Kester-Shelton) Within that story is where we meet Robert LeBrun, A young, flirtatious and confident womanizer with a reputation to match and it is within this paper,…...
CharacterReputationThe Awakening
The Awakening: Edna Pontellier Character
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Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”, her most famous novella, was written in 1899 and is widely regarded as one of the earliest American works that earnestly focuses on women’s issues and ideals. Chopin's novel captures the essence of the struggle for freedom, equality, and independence in which women have been formally engaged for almost 150 years. In Edna Pontellier we find a woman that goes beyond being a symbol for freedom and the pursuit of female independence, but a complex individual…...
CharacterThe Awakening
Similarities and Differences Between Hester Prynne and Edna Pontellier
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There are many similarities and differences between Hester Prynne and Edna Pontellier. Although The Scarlet Letter and The Awakening were written in different times and tell the story of dissimilar communities in which both main protagonists need to break the rules governing the society in order to explore their inner selves and fulfill individual desires. What both women share is the fact that they had troubles to find themselves among the people they lived with and accept the rules of…...
The Awakening
Second Great Awakening
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The Second Great Awakening was a powerful religious revival that swept the nation during the mid 1800s. While it was potent in every region of the country, it had a particular effect on three social areas of the North: abolitionism, temperance, and the development of utopian communities. All three rose from the ideas of the Second Great Awakening, which held that the individual was responsible for their own salvation through moral righteousness and rejected the idea of predestination. There was…...
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The First Great Awakening
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The first great awakening is best be described by historians as a religious revival that swept through the American colonies. This happened between 1730 and 1745. This revival was a part of the wider movement that was taking place in other regions of the world such as in European regions of Scotland Germany and England. A new age of faith was coming up quickly countering the enlightment age. This was the period that religious faith was being reaffirmed where it…...
ReligionThe Awakening
The Awakening
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1.What features make The Awakening a "local color" story? 2.What customs and beliefs of Edna Pontellier's society are significant in relation to her psychological development? 3.What attitudes and tendencies in the Creole characters does Edna have trouble adjusting to? 4.Why did Edna marry Leonce? Is he the model husband? 5.What incidents in the novel reveal that he may not be a good husband for Edna? 6.How do Mlle. Reisz and Mme. Ratignolle function in relation to Edna and the novel's…...
The Awakening
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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Illuminating Scene in The AwakeningNovelist Edith Whorton states that a novelist “must rely on what may be called the illuminating incident to reveal and emphasize the inner meaning” of the book. In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the illuminating episode is when Edna has an epiphany after swimming out into the sea. She comes to the realization that she can speak freely and share her emotions openly as she finds it liberating. This moment functions as a casement…...
Kate ChopinThe Awakening
The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening movements
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What are the fundamental differences between the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening movements, and what if anything did these two movements have in common? The Great Awakening and the Enlightenment were two historical events that shaped the thoughts of people and religion in the mid 1700's America. The Great Awakening began about the 1930's and reached its climax ten years later in 1740. They both formed and shaped the way many think today and brought lots of notions on human…...
CulturePhilosophyReligionThe AwakeningThe Enlightenment
The causes and consequences of the Great Awakening
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What were the causes and consequences of the Great Awakening? Discuss key people who influenced the Great Awakening and the differences between old and new lights. Info: The Great Awakening was a spiritual renewal that swept the American Colonies, particularly New England, during the first half of the 18th Century. Causes: Glorious Revolution of 1688: fighting between religious and political groups came to a halt with the Church of England was made the reigning church of the country. oPOV England:…...
ReligionThe Awakening
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Edna’s Character

Edna seeks spiritual acceptance and understanding of what her place is in the universe. This becomes a recurring theme throughout the novel in the term “awakened” being used to describe Edna’s arc throughout the novel. Although many readers believe that her death was due to her understanding her true self and finally coming to terms with her place in the universe, through a realist lens the recurrent “awakenings” ultimately are what will be the problem that causes her unintentional suicide at the end of the novel.

Throughout the novel, the reader is presented with the idea that many of the characters’ lives are comfortable in the sense that their gender roles are strictly followed. One of the main reasons that Edna’s suicide shows the problems with independence is during the beginning of the novel. Edna seemingly follows the rules by taking calls and entertaining guests. Chopin describes Edna’s discomfort of being a wife by saying that Edna was, ‘ ‘You are burnt beyond recognition,’ he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.”(Chopin 634). But, Edna seems to be depressed or out of sync with herself. This is what sets her apart from other women, like Madame Ratignolle. Edna has a different relationship with her kids. Her children are supposed to be her most important thing in her life but they surprisingly are the least important thing as Chopin says,

“She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them. The year before they had spent part of the summer with their grandmother Pontellier in Iberville. Feeling secure regarding their happiness and welfare, she did not miss them except with an occasional intense longing. Their absence was a sort of relief, though she did not admit this, even to herself. It seemed to free her of a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her.”(647)

While she does love her kids, Edna wouldn’t give her life for them because she values her own life just as much as theirs. Furthermore, her selfishness is what makes her have an affair with both Robert and Alceé, like Hester Prynne did in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale that ultimately lead to her being shunned by Puritan society for committing adultery. And Edna’s relationships with the two men are what makes her become an outlier in her society. Edna realistically is trying to be herself, but in her arrogance she is left with more questions about her position in the universe than could be more important, her children. Chopin talks about the predicament by saying, “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning 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” (642). Edna wants to be with Robert and doesn’t feel remorse for how that relationship could damage her family and lifestyle as she has been “awakened”. This motivates her to eventually leave her old life behind and start anew by becoming a painter and selling her art as a living in order to become independent from her docile life.

Reasons for Edna’s Suicide

Another reason that the Edna’s suicide shows flaws in being independent is largely through her final actions and thoughts towards the ending of the novel. Near the novel’s conclusion, Robert surprisingly returns from Mexico. Rob and Edna enjoy a conversation about his trip but she starts to feel that although he is closer to her than before, he could never be farther away. Chopin expertly shows how a person’s idea of love sometimes is better than reality. When Robert first returns from Mexico, Edna is enthralled to see him but when he hastily leaves soon after, Chopin says that, “She had been with him, had heard his voice and touched his hand. But some way he had seemed nearer to her off there in Mexico.” (713). Edna being blindsided by Robert’s return is the main reason for her suicide later on. Edna couldn’t fathom being with Robert because she knows it’s wrong, but she still wants to be with him. When Robert leaves a note for Edna when he leaves, he states, “I love you. Good-by—because I love you. ”(720). This destroys Edna’s realization of her wanting to be independent of the society she married into. This eventually leads to her reminiscing about her time with Robert at Grand Isle and ventures to it. She knows that now nobody can satisfy her needs so she has no place as a women in society and knows that Robert doesn’t understand her. She surrenders herself to the sea which parallels her surrendering to the problems she’s facing instead of talking to Doctor Mandelet about what has been going on with her. This makes her death a defeat, due to the problems leading up to her decision.

Throughout the novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin demonstrates how many women during the turn of the 20th century are forced to submit to the assumptions made by society. Edna is an outlier in a large population of mothers like Madame Ratignolle. The main problems of these stories are more intricate but the solutions are usually simpler because they feel that they decide their own fate. Chopin displays how Edna’s suicide could be remedied by simply speaking with Doctor Mandelet before irrationally choosing to swim for a chance to be free from society. This novel parallels Othello in the sense that his death is because of his unwavering love for Desdemona and Iago’s manipulation. If Othello or Edna took time to think about a way to solve her problem of love, they might not have commited suicide. Society at the turn of the century wasn’t as progressive in terms of women’s rights. Kate Chopin wrote this novel in order to show how women going against the assumptions society put in place can really change perspective, making Edna’s journey a warning against becoming independent from society.

Works Cited

  1. Chopin, Kate. ‘The Awakening.’ Norton Anthologies of American Literature, Sixth Edition, Volume C. edited by Nina Baym, 2007, p.633-723

FAQ about The Awakening

What features make The Awakening a “local color” story?
...14. Why do you suppose critics were outraged at this novel in 1899, saying it committed "unutterable crimes against polite society" and should be labeled "poison" to protect "moral babes"? 15. What is your reaction to the end of the novel? Do you agr...

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