Title: The Awakening Author: Kate Chopin Setting: Grand Isle and New Orleans in the early 19th century Genre: Tragedy Historical context: The Awakening takes place when women were seen as a man’s possession. Mr. Pontellier looks at Edna as a possession. Women were expected to stay devoted to their husband and children and remain a stereotypical housewife whose main job is to clean, cook and care for the children. (Adele) Edna rivals against these standards as she challenges society 's expectations of women during the early 19th century.
Edna feels she is entitled to a private emotional life, a hidden self. Edna reveals her idea of the self in a conversation with Madame Ratignolle, insisting that although she would give her life for her children, she would not sacrifice her self, a distinction that Madame Ratignolle fails to
It is common for people in everyday society to conform to society’s expectations while also questioning their true desires. In the novel, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, the main protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess, "That outward existence which conforms, the inward life that questions." In other words, Edna outwardly conforms while questioning inwardly. Kate Chopin, uses this tension between outward conformity and inward questioning to build the meaning of the novel by examining Edna’s role as a wife, mother, and as nontraditional woman in the traditional Victorian period. Edna outwardly conforms to society’s expectations by marriage.
Streater argues that Edna cannot completely bond with Adele because the loss of her mother at a young age has left her with a “psychological void” (411). However, Edna’s confidence in Adele suggests otherwise. Edna opens up to Adele. She tells her about things that bother her, past crushes, and the reasons for her marriage. Likewise, Adele inspires Edna’s transgressions and encourages her to live unapologetically.
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is a piece of fiction written in the nineteenth century. The protagonist Edna is a controversial character, Edna rebels against many nineteenth - century traditions, but her close friend Adele was a perfect example in terms of a role of a woman, mother and wife at that time. Chopin uses contrast characters to highlight the difference between Adele and Edna. Although they are both married women in the nineteenth century, they also exhibit many different views about what a mother role should be.
Adele has her sewing and Madame Reisz has her piano playing. One day, Edna agrees to go swimming with Robert. This experience awakens something inside her. She realizes swimming in the sea is some kind of escape for her. She can forget about all her responsibilities as a wife and a mother for a little while and just focus on herself.
Edna developed a yearning for the pursuit of passion and sensuality, two major qualities that were absent in her marriage and home. She became enchanted with the idea of passionate love. This is shown by her relationship with Robert and with Alcée. These relationships resulted in a sexual awakening in Edna’s life. Mademoiselle Reisz 's piano performances brought an emotional awakening in Edna and fed her need for some drama in her life.
Edna and Adele are friends who are different because of their the way they were brought up. Adele is a wife who always obeys her husband no mater what. Edna is a woman who strays from her husband and does not listen to her husband very often. Chopin uses Adele to emphasize the differences between her and Edna. Since Edna Pontellier is not a
She was “no longer [...] content to “feed upon opinion” when her own soul had invited her” (Chopin 103), summoning her to experience the rich and complex world that inhabited her being. However, as Edna’s ability for self-expression grows, the amount of people who can truly empathize with her gets increasingly smaller. The fact that solitude becomes a direct result of Edna’s independence is clear evidence of her awakening. Since the societal expectations of the late 1800s gave Victorian women very limited opportunities for individual expression, they preventing them from tending to their own wants and needs. For this reason, as Edna acknowledges her desire for freedom and verbalizes her emotions, she is met with disappointing resistance from the world surrounding her.
Edna even says herself, “I would give up the unessential…my money…my life for my children, but not myself.” For her life, Edna realized that means her marriage and physical life. As far as her marriage, Edna was never truly happy with her marriage with Leonce. Furthermore, Edna states she truly cares for her children, but sometimes her search for herself may conflict with this. This then further discourages readers even more due to the fact that this gives insight to her actions, and somewhat justifies them.
She had already had three children and the forth was on its way. All Adele would think about all day long would be her children. If any of her children were to have hurt themselves, they would come crying to her and she would make them all better. Adele would always be sewing clothes for her children and talking about them. Sometimes she would wonder if she should leave the children behind and go somewhere with Edna.
She tells Madame Ratignolle, “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear; it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me” (52). This lets the readers know that Edna is starting to acknowledge that she cannot dedicate all of her time to her children and that she's not willing to sacrifice herself for them. This action displays how Edna's attitude towards others around her is changing and how she does not want to have the responsibility of taking care of her family because it would mean that she has to dedicate her time and space to them which would mean that she would be giving herself up for the sake of the