During the nineteenth century, possessions, including women, and the home represented status, wealth, and power that only men possessed. In The Awakening, the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, becomes highly conscious of herself as an individual who has the potential to be self-sufficient and do as she desires. She begins to defy the standards of woman during the nineteenth century through iconoclastic beliefs that eventually lead Edna to participating in an affair and leaving her husband, Leonce. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses the motif of the home to highlight Edna’s responsibilities as a mother and wife and to also track the progression and evolution of Edna’s state of freedom.
“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world” (Chopin, p. 57). A novel written by Kate Chopin, The Awakening shares the story of Edna Pontellier’s journey of self-discovery. Readers of the day were shocked by the content of the novel. Published in 1899, Kate Chopin’s controversial novel portrays a woman liberating herself from society’s expectations for a lady. Edna changes from a bored, obedient wife in the beginning of The Awakening to a liberated woman who can freely express her feelings.
The author uses a comparison and contrast between Madame Ratignolle and Edna Pontellier to show how these two ladies are different from one another. Chopin emphasizes how feminine Madame Ratignolle is to demonstrate how Edna seems to be an outcast from the Creole society. Chopin chooses to incorporate the appearance of the two ladies to support the fact that Edna feels like she does not fit in, especially when Leonce refers to Madame Ratignolle in some parts of the novel. How Conventionality is Being Challenged “She was blindly following whatever impulse moved her, as if she had placed herself in alien hands for direction, and freed her soul of responsibility.”
In the story, “The Awakening,” by Kate Chopin, the main character, Edna Pontellier truly goes through an “awakening”, or self-discovery throughout the story. It is quite interesting how at a glance, Edna is seen as an elegant and devoted wife and mother, but in reality, she was not satisfied with both her marriage and her current lifestyle, and yearned to be an independent woman. It is clear that this story is ideal to teach in American Literature for several reasons. First and foremost, the story was a psychological journey rather than a physical one. For this reason, a reader must analyze and make sense of the thoughts and feelings that Edna shared throughout the book to come to conclusions about how she has gone through an “awakening.”
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening takes places in the social world of New Orleans, in the 19th century, were the notion of motherhood and femininity was controlled and enforced fiercely. Women could not own property, vote or work. The only use society had for them was to stay at home and take care of their husbands and children. Motherhood is displayed through three characters in the novel: Adele Ratignolle who is the symbol of The Angel in the House or the mother woman, Mademoiselle Reisz who although physically old represents the new woman, and Edna Pontellier who is stuck in between motherhood and her thirst for independence. There is an interesting dichotomy between Edna Pontellier, the woman who feels deprived and repressed and Adele Ratignolle
Mother and wife are also not her will; she feels restrained and loses her liberty of being that. After she heard the playing from Adele, she feels the solitude and loneliness, it seems same as her position in this era, no one understands her and feels depress toward the people, the family she encountered. On the contrary, she is touched after hearing the pianist Mademoiselle Reisz plays. It is full of power and passion, and Mademoiselle is a woman that she wants to be, independent with alternative performance in this society, she is separated and not the one of them. Edna wants to know more about her and try to be like her, but the most essential element that a independent artist should has is bravery, this is what the pianist told Edna.
Ratignolle and starts associating with Mademoiselle Reisz. As Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz’s relationship grows, so does Edna’s need for change and her admiration of Robert increases. Mademoiselle Reisz does not condone Edna’s love for Robert, yet, she does not attempt to talk Edna out of it. The only response Mademoiselle Reisz expresses to Edna’s feelings for Robert is, “Why do you love him when you ought not to? (Chopin 78)”
Pontellier’s wishes, causing her to be in her unhappiest state of mind. She is still surrendering to the mother woman responsibilities that she feels society is forcing upon her. Edna must continue to care for her kids, be polite to her husband, stay in the house on the days that people can come to visit her, and make sure their family reflects well on the image of her husband. During this time we learn of Edna’s unhappiness and that she feels caged in by the rules of marriage in the world that she lives in. Edna views her marriage as a jail she cannot escape.
Albert D. Saba Mr. Amoroso AP Literature Period: 3AP Topic: 1 LAP The Awakening A novel by Kate Chopin Will the chains and the unspoken pain unshackle through one’s heroic individualism? In the novel, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Edna Pontellier becomes a heroic figure to herself as well as for women through the search of her self-identity.
Edna was flabbergasted that Robert did not share with her that he is leaving for Mexico. Edna is very much infatuated with Robert in an immature sense while Robert is mature enough to realize that they cannot have a serious relationship because she is already married. She clings to his hand when he is about to leave and she wants him to write but in return receives a simplistic answer. He knows he cannot further develop his feelings for her, but Edna fails to understand why. Although he tells Edna he is leaving for business matters, he is going to Mexico because he knows he cannot be with Edna and he does not want any more temptations.
Lèonce Pontellier shows a lack of interest and enthusiasm for Edna and her hobbies. When Lèonce say’s ‘“What folly! To bathe at such an hour in such heat. ”’(Chopin 2) you are able to see Lèonce has a degree of frustration built up for his wife, Edna.
Kate Chopin conveys the feelings and internal conflict of Edna Pontellier through using the ocean as a symbol of Edna’s awakening and rebirth, and birds as symbols of how women felt trapped by gender roles during this time. These symbols convey the overbearing and oppressive standards women were held to throughout the nineteenth
Edna said that she would give up unessentials for her children, which means that she does not care about them. Kate Chopin uses Adele to describe how a typical dedicated wife should treat her husband and children. Edna is not Creole and she does not treat her husband and her children right.
Edna fully understands that society would brand her as a terrible woman, but she does not view herself as a bad person. There is an external and internal difference that Edna hopes to one day reconcile. Chopin, instead of creating tension within Edna, created tension within the society and Edna with her newfound independence does not mind how society classifies her. Decisively, it can be concluded that the tension between outward conformity and inward questioning builds the meaning of the novel by examining Edna’s role as a wife, mother, and as nontraditional woman in the traditional Victorian period.