The Awakening By Kate Chompin English Literature Essay

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Kate Chopin ‘s The Awakening, originally published in 1899, is set in the late 19th century Victorian life style of Louisiana. It centers on Edna Pontellier a immature married woman and female parent who struggles with the boundaries that society topographic points on her. The novel shows Edna seeking to derive freedom and control over her life in a traditional late 19th century Victorian society where she is suppose to be happy and content being a “ mother-woman ” . In an effort to happen her inner freedom and independency, she breaks all the social regulations: She disobeys her hubby ; She is ambivalent towards her two kids ; She moves out of her hubby ‘s house ; She has an emotional matter with one adult male ; She has a physical matter, with yet another adult male, when the first adult male leaves her ; She distances herself from the 2nd adult male when the first returns ; Merely to hold the first adult male leave her yet once more. Edna refuses to accept that what she wants is so impossible to achieve. Ultimately, she realizes society will ne’er let her to hold the inner freedom she believes she deserves. She eventually finds that freedom, in the signifier of the “ sea ” .

The Awakening takes topographic point in Louisiana in a Creole society during the late 19th century. Kate Chopin is one of the first to admit the power and freedom a adult female should hold. In The Awakening, Chopin uses the supporter, Edna Pontellier, to stand for a adult female ‘s battle of freedom and independency. Throughout the novel, grounds of Chopin bit by bit rousing Edna from her emotional bondage is shown by the manner Edna chooses to show her freedom over subjugation during a clip when this was non common for adult females to talk out. There are several waking ups throughout the novel that represent Edna ‘s battle for independency and freedom. Although she strives for freedom until the terminal, Edna becomes stuck between essentialism and constructivism.

In the beginning of the novel, Chopin describes Edna as a female who did non idolise her kids, or idolize her hubby like a “ mother-woman ” ( Chopin 12 ) . By defying conforming to the stereotype of a mother-woman, Edna fought the force per unit areas of the late 19th century that forced her to go a homemaker and female parent ; Edna was in emotional bondage within her place. Edna rousing by the subjugation she received from her hubby. Chopin states, “ Her matrimony to Leonce Pontellier was strictly an accident, in this regard resembling many other matrimonies which masquerade as the edicts of destiny ( Chopin terminal of Ch 7 ) . Leonce, who would frequently look at her “ as one looks at a valuable piece of propertyaˆ¦ “ ( Chopin 3 ) .

She suffered from a deficiency of freedom because of her responsibilities as a married woman and female parent. Her societal standing and everything she has, including her kids are owed to the individual to whom she is married. Edna lived the life of a typical Victorian adult female in an indispensable province that received power merely because of her submissive, feminine ways and fostering inclinations, non from her intelligence and creativeness.

At the first mark of rebellion, Leonce responds by claiming she has non done her responsibility. He asks, “ If it was non a female parent ‘s topographic point to look after kids, whose on Earth was it? ” ( Chopin 8 ) . As Edna expresses her emotion through cryings as she realizes her province of repression. Her calls become heavy as she can no longer rest by the side of her hubby. Edna goes outdoors into the free air, leting the quiet dark to quiet her. The arm of her nightie is damp with cryings ( Chopin ch 3 ) . Her desire for independency began to turn during the quietest hr of the dark. After an statement, Edna realizes she does non make as told by her hubby because she desires to, but because that is what society requires. A good married woman would ne’er disobey her hubby! “ She wondered if her hubby had of all time spoken to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his bid. Of class she hadaˆ¦But she could non recognize why or how, she should hold yielded, experiencing as she so did ” ( Chopin page in Ch. 11 ) . Although Leonce is free to come and travel as he pleases and make whatever his bosom desires, his married woman must conform to guidelines of the adult females of the society or she is non carry throughing her mother-woman responsibilities.

Awakened by her uneven desire to be responsible for her kids, Edna realized, as a female parent, her kids should intend everything to her. Edna loves her boies, yet she sometimes expressions at them as a load. Chopin writes “ she had accustomed disregard of the kids ” ( Chopin 5 ) . “ She was fond of her kids in an uneven unprompted manner. She would sometimes garner them passionately to her bosom ; she would sometimes bury them ( Chopin Ch. 7 ) . She cares for them because that is what society expects. Edna ne’er received adequate O to take a breath purdah and autonomy into her ain life. Because she felt her ain emotional demands were neglected, Edna was non willing to supply her complete and unconditioned love for her hubby and kids. “ I would give up the inessential ; I would give my money ; I would give my life for my kids ; but I would n’t give myself. I ca n’t do it more clear ; it ‘s merely something I am get downing to grok, which is uncovering itself to me ” ( Chopin middle ch 16 ) . Although Edna does non originally recognize her disregard of her boies, she knows her feelings towards them are non natural for a female parent. Edna ‘s function as a female parent was partly responsible for her non accomplishing the freedom she so amply desired. “ Their absence was kind of a reliefaˆ¦It seemed to liberate her from a duty that she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had non fitted her ” ( Chopin Ch 7 ) .

When Edna eventually learns to swim, Chopin says of her, “ aˆ¦some power of important import had been given to her to command the working of her organic structure and her psyche ( beg. Cha 10 ) .

As she realized, “ How easy it is ” ( Chopin ) , she found swimming to be elating ( Chopin beg Ch 10 ) . She effortlessly floats on the H2O ; Edna awakens to the power and freedom of swimming and the sea. There are no boundaries in the huge sweep of the sea ; “ As she swam, she seemed to be making out for the limitless in which to lose herself ” ( Chopin ch 10 ) . Chopin writes, “ She wanted to swim far out where no adult female had swum before ” ( Ch 10 ) . This waking up caused her to be more bold, she swam further out, “ Once she turned and looked toward the shore, toward the people she had left thereaˆ¦the stretch of H2O behind her assumed the facet of a barrier which her unaided strength would ne’er be able to get the better of ” Chopin ch 10 ) . She was afraid she had gone excessively far to hold the strength to do it back to the shore and, “ A speedy vision of decease smote her soulaˆ¦ ” ( Chopin Ch 10 ) .

Edna has two personal businesss in, one emotional and one physical. She is emotionally attracted to Robert Lebrun, a immature adult male close to her age who is the boy of the owner of the Grand Isle resort. After Robert leaves her, on a recoil, she takes up with Alcee Arobin, a adult male with whom she has no emotional fond regard, it is strictly physical.

A coquettish infatuation with Robert awakened Edna to true love. Ideas non going of a married adult female began to run trough Edna ‘s head. Her fancy for Robert grows after she learns that he allows her to show herself. When she is with Robert, she is free from boundaries. Edna enjoys Robert ‘s company and likes the feeling she has when they are around each other. As they sat lovingly staring at each other “ aˆ¦ interchanging occasional words, glimpses or smilings which indicated a certain advanced phase of familiarity… ” ( Chopin ch 5 1st p. ) . Their relationship is fresh and rebellious ; Edna receives a little bang from her emotions because she is making a sense of independency from her matrimony to Leonce. However, merely as their relationship begins to bloom, Robert leaves for Mexico. Edna feels great unhappiness, for she had fallen in love with him.

With her sexual desires are still unmet as she develops a lecherousness for Arobin, a ill-famed ladies adult male who looks for a sexual conquering. Edna liked Arobin ‘s unworried life style. Although she does non experience any love for him, she likes the attending he gives her, so she uses him as a replacing of Robert to avoid a return to her indispensable ways. The confidant relationship with Arobin stimulated her organic structure. Their first snog became “ the first buss of her life to which her nature had truly responded. It was a bally torch that kindled desire ” ( Chopin end ch 27 ) and awakened Edna ‘s gender.

Edna enjoyed the buss from Arobin, but her flight of independency rapidly descended when he left for the dark. Though she thinks of her hubby and Robert, she has neither shame nor remorse ( Chopin ch. 28 ) . However, “ There was a dull stab of sorrow because it was non a buss of love that had inflamed her, because it was non love which had held this cup of life to her lips ” ( Chopin ch 28 ) . She wants to stamp down her lecherousness for Arobin, but she can non halt showing her coquettish ways. Edna faces an internal struggle ; she does non cognize which way to take: follow the social outlooks or follow her desire to populate free.

Edna does non wholly bury her place in the society she lives in, but she does do a base to try to unleash her inner freedom. She writes a missive to Leonce to state him her readyings to go forth the chief house to travel into a smaller place. Edna did non contemplate her determination beforehand. “ There was no minute of deliberation, no interval of rest between the idea and its fulfilment ” ( Chopin 129 ) and Edna broke out of both the physical walls and emotional barriers Leonce created and could now make whatever she wanted. The new place is little, and called the “ pigeon house, ” but Edna feels like she will bask her new independency. Edna eventually feels strong plenty to voice her desires. Her eyes are unfastened as she makes her manner towards constructivism, but her journey ends suddenly.

Edna is nervous and excited to larning of Robert ‘s pending return from Mexico ; she besides becomes progressively distant from Arobin. Robert tells her, “ There in Mexico I was believing of you all the clip, and hankering for you ” ( Chopin Middle of ch. 36 ) . Robert goes on to state, he ran off because she was married, and he could non hold her, to which Edna responded, “ I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier ‘s ownership to dispose of or non. I give myself where I choose ” ( terminal of Ch 36 ) . “ Now you knowaˆ¦what drove me off and what drove me back once more ” ( Chopin Middle of ch. 36 ) .

Edna provinces, “ I love youaˆ¦only you ; no 1 but you. It was you who woke me last summer out of a life-long, stupid dream ” ( Chopin end Ch 36 ) . With this waking up, Edna believes she and Robert will be together everlastingly, “ Now you and I are here, we shall love each otheraˆ¦Nothing else in this universe is of any effect ” ( Chopin end ch 36 ) . Unfortunately, merely a few hours after Robert exclaimed, “ Do n’t travel, do n’t make! Oh! Edna, stay with meaˆ¦Stay with me, remain with me ” ( Chopin Ch 36 ) , he left to returned to Mexico, go forthing merely a note, “ I love you. Good-by – because I love you ” ( Chopin Ch 38 ) . Although painful, he decides it is best to go forth before she returns from assisting Adele. Because Edna is still married, he knows he can ne’er to the full have her. He loves her excessively much to state adieu in individual.

In malice of her efforts to emancipate herself from the mother-woman coop, Edna fails. Her place ne’er feels loving, and she still yearns for comfort and purdah. Edna creates her ain walls in the “ pigeon house ” as she makes her concluding flight. Edna is now awakened to the fact that she will ne’er hold Robert. She returns entirely to the resort on Grand Isle, on the beach by the sea, the topographic point where they foremost met. Chopin states, “ Edna walked on down to the beach instead automatically, non detecting anything particular except that the Sun was hot. She was non brooding upon any peculiar train of idea. She had done all the thought which was necessary after Robert went awayaˆ¦ ” ( Ch 39 ) . Edna reflects on her yesteryear and provinces, “ Today it is Arobin ; to-morrow it will be some one else ” ( Chopin ch 39 ) . Although at times ambivalent towards them, as she continues walking, she thinks about her kids, “ It makes no difference to me, it does n’t count about Leonce Pontellier – but Raoul and Etienne ” ( Chopin ch. 39 ) . As she carefully orchestrates her decease to look inadvertent, Edna is concerned about her male childs ‘ repute in the community if she continues to populate life as she chooses. Finally, during her walk she thinks of Robert, the individual who awakened her true love but has now left her alone. “ There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert ; and she even realized that the twenty-four hours would come when he, excessively, and the idea of him would run out of her being, go forthing her alone ” ( Chopin Ch 39 ) .

With nowhere else to travel, she escapes to the sea ; the one topographic point where she knows she was free. Chopin uses the sea to stand for the waking up within Edna ‘s psyche that is shouting out, “ The voice of the sea seductive, ne’er discontinuing, whispering, clamouring, mutter, ask foring the psyche to roll in abysms of purdah ” ( Chopin 176 ) . Chopin states, “ But when she was at that place beside the sea, perfectly entirely, she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first clip in her life she stood bare in the unfastened air, at the clemency of the Sun, the zephyr that beat upon her, and the moving ridges that invited her. How unusual and atrocious it seemed to stand under the sky! how delightful! She felt like some new-born animal, opening its eyes in a familiar universe that it had ne’er known ” ( Chopin ch 39 ) . As Edna walks out into the sea naked, her problems and concerns float off with the moving ridges. She floats with the sea ; her head and organic structure are no longer bound by society, adult male or kid.

She swam out every bit far as she could, but this clip, “ She did non look backaˆ¦but went on and onaˆ¦believing that it had no beginning and no terminal ” ( Chopin ch 39 ) . She swam deeper into the H2O to go forth her life behind, because society would non let her the freedom she deserved. Again she thought of Robert ‘s note to her, “ Good-by – because I love you ” ( Chopin ch 39 ) and swam out until “ the shore was far behind her, and her strength was gone ” ( Chopin ch 39 ) . Uncompromising in her pursuit for independency, self-destruction is the lone manner Edna can truly seek purdah, freedom, and comfort. Edna ‘s much earlier announcement to Madame Ratignolle came true, “ … she would ne’er give herself for her kids, or for any one ( Chopin mid ch.16 ) . To Edna, decease was better than forfeit, “ I would give my life for my kids ; but I would n’t give myself ” ( Chopin mid ch.16 ) .


As a bend of the century married woman and female parent, Edna had all of the material furnishings of what appeared to be a successful life. She had everything that she could perchance desire, except freedom. Edna threw off the furnishings of her old life to research independency, freedom, love and sexual fulfilment in a manner that was unheard of for a adult female in that twenty-four hours. Throughout the novel she has several waking ups: She awakens to her hubbies subjugation and the feeling that she is treated like his belongings ; She awakens to the idea that her kids were forestalling her for achieving independency ; She awakens to the freedom the sea offers as she learns to swim ; She awakens to true love with Robert ; She awakens to her gender through a passionate matter with Arobin ; Finally, she awakens to accept the realisation that merely by projecting herself in the sea can she be free.

Work Cited:

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 1899. Minneola, NY: Dover Publications, 1993. Need TO CHANGE