“The Awakening” PR

Despite the plot progression remaining at a snail’s pace for most of the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Our protagonist, Edna, embarks on a journey of self- actualization that speaks volumes not only to the human condition and the liberation of women, but also to a deeply personal theme of discovery and realization. This awakening, as the book is so-cleverly named, mirrors my own feelings with regard to finding purpose, motivation, and direction. However, experiencing Edna’s courage and story invokes an unshakable empathy in me.

Each person reading this will struggle to find a calling in life. Something in their life that provides them joy and allows them to faithfully follow the direction in which they pursue and cherish this extasy-inducing stimuli. In her painting, Edna has found a direction and motivation like nothing she has felt before,

“There were days when she was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the colors, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day…There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,-when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead.”(pg. 68).

The passage above perfectly summarizes the struggle each person faces when searching for meaning in life. The duality of optimism and helplessness highlights the internal struggle Edna faces. My empathy for Edna, as well as my experiences, stems from this passage and others like it. An innate struggle of my experience has been to find direction and a means to faithlessly pursue it. I feel deeply for Edna as a result. Particularly, I have felt unsure about my own future, and what I can accomplish. It is as though I cast a shadow of doubt over each and every decision I make when trying to decipher life’s plan for me. I have at times felt directionless; simply drifting along until I find a calling or purpose to latch on to, lacking any motivation to follow a path that has been set for me. I was constantly left in a state of wonder and awe, as I passively watched as life carried me along a well-beaten path. This is precisely why I have a deep and unwavering sense of empathy for Edna. An additional reason for my connection to Edna lies in the following passage,

“Without even waiting for an answer from her husband for his opinions or wishes in that manner, Edna hastened her preparations for quitting her home on Esplanade Street, and moving into the little house around the block. A feverish anxiety attended her every action in interval of repose in that direction between the thoughts and its fulfillment.”(pg. 99).

Despite her beautiful home, Edna must leave and become fully independent. Her decision is to be admired for its undeniable courage. Edna left a comfortable, safe, and pre-determined life, for the purpose of self-actualization. Her recognition of obstacles inhibiting her progress demonstrates strong will power, and a true desire to change. Moreover, it exhibits Edna’s absolute commitment to the promise she made to herself. An essential component of the human condition is the act of leaving behind what holds you back, no matter the hurt it inflicts. Edna’s story made me recognize my own obstacles and shortcomings stemming from them. This encouraged and enabled me to take risks I normally wouldn’t consider. I now realize this is essential in transforming into my own person, and embracing what makes me unique. However, I still look back with a melancholic nostalgia for a more simple time, when life was laid out for me, as I’m sure many do. Despite this longing for the past, I will no longer allow it to seep into my psyche, and will persevere floating through life’s current; lying in wait for my own awakening.