Personal Response for ‘The Awakening’

In “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin I found the main characters very interesting. They have very unique personalities and motivations that make them to make different decisions and have different feelings. I did not like the character Edna because I think she acted selfish by having affairs with other men and not looking after her children good enough. But I also felt pity for Edna because she wanted freedom from being trapped in unhappy marriage to an older man who did not love her and who she did not love either. Her husband just wants to her earn money and have a good reputation, that’s why he tries to stop her moving out of the house. He is too dominant in their marriage and she feels trapped so I felt sorry for her. Edna is a sympathetic character to me, because life was very unfair to her. I also think that Edna still showed she cares about her husband’s reputation because she drowned in the sea but she did it in a way that people won’t know that she killed herself on purpose.

Mr. Pontellier is a professional and he earns money to feed his family, so he looks good from the outside to society, but to me he actually is a chauvinist who does not treat his wife with love. This made me dislike the character of Mr. Pontellier. He looks like a perfect husband but he does not care enough about his wife and kids and so it increases her unhappiness so that she wants to be free. Edna puts all of her hope in Robert, but in the end even he decides not to marry her because of the social pressure and the bad judgment they would get in society. This was sad and it shows how women in that time period had their future depending on a man instead of independence.

I also found the character Mrs. Ratignolle interesting also. She is a very nice awesome woman, but she is limited by that period of time and her husband’s dominance. She is a typical woman of that time period that means her main job is to have children and look after her husband. I think that makes me feel some pity, because she loses her own distinct personality by only having a job serving others. She is pregnant with her fourth child in the story and that seems like a lot of children to me for one woman because in China women usually only have one or maybe two children. I think Mrs. Ratignolle is a same type of character similar to Edna but Edna gets more depressed than Mrs. Ratignolle.

Taking all of the above elements into consideration, I found the characters in “The Awakening” interesting and sometimes confusing with their motivations, but the story gave me a sad feeling in the end. I feel like this story is fighting for women’s rights to show the voice and feelings about women that were ignored in history. The author is trying to show Edna as an inspiration to fight for their own rights and even though the ending is sad, Edna is supposed to be an example of how unhappy things can be if women are treated bad. My personal response to this story was that I wished the characters could have been happier and not so much trapped by society and expectation, but I was also a bit upset about how the character Edna was so much thinking of herself even though I understand why the author Kate Chopin was making the example out of her about women having rights.

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