AP English Literature and Composition
January 3, 2018
Politics and literature are far from strange bedfellows. Social commentary and allegory have been tools in the literary toolbox since Ancient Greece, with Plato’s Allegory of The Cave being one of the earliest forms of the device. Science fiction is an entire genre that, at least to a degree, is based upon the premise of looking at the problems of today through the eyes of tomorrow. Oftentime, authors seek to tackle the issues of their time within their writing, and Kate Chopin was no different when she published her final work The Awakening in 1899. At the time of The Awakening’s release, many works strived to address the rights of women, with the Suffragette …show more content…
The ocean, and by extension swimming, serve to symbolize liberation and the pursuit of that thereof. Edna grew up as a respectable woman in Kentucky, a landlocked state with no land connection to the ocean. After settling into marriage with Léonce Pontellier, she moves out to coastal Louisiana and spends summers out in Grand Isle, surrounded by ocean. Grand Isle is where Edna meets Robert, and where she experiences her awakening. While there, Edna begins learning to swim, and as she learns to control the water she in turn discovers that she has agency over her own body. When she comes back from the island, this new outlook on life clashes with her husband’s old world values, and he endeavors to stop what he sees as utter madness. At one point, a family doctor recommends to Léonce that Edna spend time at her ancestral home, far away from the water, to return her behavior to what he knows as normal. Edna expresses a dislike of and actively avoids certain parts of society, but cannot fully separate herself from the motherly duties forced onto her by traditional gender roles, unlike her muse Mademoiselle Reisz. These duties, ultimately, prove to be the fetters that cause Edna to sink downward, and lead her to end her life in the same ocean where it truly …show more content…
Her frequent vacations to the island, like her frequent dips into the ocean, begin to spark a personal change within the woman. A Creole man, Robert, shows Edna a new dimension of feelings she never knew she lived without, and she begins to look through life through a new lens. Having been awakened for the first time, she sees injustice and mistreatment where she saw none before. Chopin uses Edna’s new observations and reactions to the culture around her to illustrate the myriad ways women were marginalized. In an ironic twist, the white woman from Kentucky proves to be more liberated than her more traditional husband, who grew up
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
The novel begins located on Grand Isle, an island resort off the coast of Louisiana, inhabited by the wealthy Creole families throughout the summer. The men go back to the city to work during the week leaving the women and children. While on the island Edna Pontellier meets a man who pays her special attention, named Robert Lebrun. They spend lots of time together, Edna especially enjoys it beings her husband is always too preoccupied with his business. During the time spent, Edna discovers self-wants, interests, and desires.
While at the Grand Isle, Edna meets several contrasting characters who help develop her defiant thoughts eventually leading to her awakening. One of her closest friends, Madame Ratignolle, is described as the ideal mother and wife; she is attentive to her husband and cares for her children above all else. Ironically, Edna feels the opposite way; she would “give up the unessential; [she] would give [her] money, [she] would give [her] life for [her] children; but [she] wouldn’t give [her]self” (40). When she revealed this opinion to Madame Ratignolle “a rather heated argument [followed]; the two women did not appear to understand each other or to be talking the same language” (52). Edna’s attitude toward her children compared to Madame Ratignolle’s is the first of many rebellious
This daring, adventurous desire stemmed from her husband, Mr. Pontellier, and his overbearing, possessive nature. This rebirth occurs, and over time Edna feels like herself, able to make her own decisions. Feeling alone, the “space and solitude” of the ocean emphasizes how Edna is different from the others in her society and seems rebellious to her husband (55). The freedom that
At first, Edna is scared of the water and she is unable to swim. She needs help and assistance from many people to accomplish her goal of swimming in the ocean. Initially, she is scared of the water, which is similar to how she is scared to break free from her role as a wife and a mother. Robert, specifically, is the one to teach her how to swim and, subsequently, helps her take the first step in finding her new freedom. Edna gets empowered by her new romantic interest and the possibility of distancing herself from her husband.
Lèonce Pontellier In The Awakening In Kate Chopin’s novella, The Awakening, Léonce Pontellier, Edna Pontellier, and their children spend the summer in La Grand Isle. Grand Isle is a town in Louisiana, populated with Creole families. Not able to meet the Creole social standards and be true to herself, Edna, with the help of her husband, becomes aware that she is meant to be an independant woman. Lèonce’s high focus on his image and business makes it hard for him to see his wife's process of self-discovery, he becomes apathetic and can even be ill- tempered towards Edna.
Throughout the beginnings of both stories, both Edna and the narrator explore new surroundings as they find their obsession, yet the situations that lead to the discovery of their manias cause the characters to appreciate the infatuation in different regards. Edna’s ironic attraction to the ocean begins with her inability to swim, as “Edna had attempted all summer to learn to swim... A certain ungovernable dread hung about her when in the water, unless there was a hand nearby that might reach out and reassure her” (Chopin 36). The ultimate subject of Edna’s attention was originally something she despised and had distaste for. This perspective allows for an objective view of the temptation of the ocean, something that Edna succumbs to later
After swimming successfully, she develops feelings for Robert. After this awakening, Edna starts to step back and rethink her entire life; her marriage, her role, and even herself. She realizes she feels sort of imprisoned in this life she has had for so long. Edna finally starts doing things for her, she is letting herself feel an attraction for another man even though she is married and she also gets into art and has everyone in the house model for her. Rather than doing things to get the house ready for her husband or spending time playing with her children, she is distracted by all her newly found
This can be connected with her emotional, sexual and intellectual awakening since Edna come to realize that she alone is enough, there is no need for husband and children to complete her. It was the sea that aroused her body and knock on the door of her sexuality. The sea was the place where she was reborn, and that’s probably the reason why she came back there to commit
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.
In this state she acts upon her own desires, sexually and emotionally. She is able to express her true identity and finally finds the courage to make the changes she deems as necessary. Her interactions with Robert and Alcée intensify, which please her sexually and emotionally. She feels no ties with Léonce whatsoever, and does not worry or care too much about him. Edna eventually travels back to Grand Isle’s waters and stands “naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her.”
While not only, knocking the idea of traditional female ideals, she also gets the chance to show her absolute disdain for commitment in marriage, most likely due to her affair with the man she truly loved, Robert. When Edna’s husband decides to leave her alone and goes on an extended trip, she finally puts her words of dissatisfaction into action and, as an act against societal norms and traditional obedient women ideals, moves out of the house that she shares with her husband, and instead, lives on her own in order to become more independant. A woman having any type of independence during this time period was a completely radical idea, and she struggles to find a normal
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.
As people grow old they tend to realize the mistakes they have made in life and try to make up for them. These realizations are mostly internal; however, there could be some external manifestations. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin shows how Edna has a realization that having a family is not what she wanted in life. Chopin is able to create a feeling of suspense and excitement through this event by illustrating Edna’s inner thoughts, including her past, the way she starts to act towards others and demonstrating the steps she takes towards freeing herself up. A reflection of Edna's past is described in the novel in order to represent how she wants to go back to her old self.
The images of birds and the ocean are used to show the harsh standards placed on Edna and other women in the nineteenth century. As illustrated in The Awakening, the ocean is a symbol of rebirth and revival. While at Grand Isle, Edna is one of the only vacationers who can not swim. The water is as unfamiliar to Edna as her neighbors’ culture and way of openly expressing themselves.