The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Personal Response:

I found this book very interesting and very honestly more enjoyable to read. Kate Chopin had written the book at the beginning like it was going to be the typical book you read about romance as if the reader will predict what’s going to happen just by reading the first few chapters. At first, I thought this book was going to be another normal and happily ever after romance book, but to my surprise, it didn’t turn out like that at all. Reading more and more of the book caught me off guard, just like when I had read Pygmalion. I thought at first that Eliza would end up with Mr.Higgins, but it didn’t happen, the same with Edna and Robert.

Being on the topic of Edan I don’t think she was a bad mother or person. Edan had always put others’ needs before her own. It had come a bit in class discussions that Edna was neglecting her children, but the children of Edna and Leonce came up briefly. When they had come up in the story it normal was when Mr. Pontellier was worried about his children. There were no signs that Edan neglected her children or that she didn’t care for her children as well. Edna in this story to me shows quite clear signs that she cares for her children and doesn’t neglect them one bit. An example of this would be in chapter three when Mr. Pontellier came home late from Klein’s Hotel. Mr. Pontellier had gotten back to the cabin and thought that Raoul was coming down with a fever, Edna in response said that he was fine and that he didn’t have a fever. At first, I had thought she was neglecting one of her kids, but after reading the text after her response, I realized that I had only thought that because Mr. Pontieller had made it seem like she was. Mr. Pontellier had thought she was a bad mother and put an image that she was even though Edna wasn’t a bad mother at all. She had been with her kids when Mr. Pontellier had left and out of the two of them, she would be the one to know if her kids were sick or not. Also, I think that if Edna didn’t care about her children I don’t think she would have held, Etienne when he was still awake while they were out. If she had not cared for her children she would have done nothing and walked passed him as if he wasn’t there.

I also think Edna received hate which I think and believe to be unfair. In the class discussion, it’s come up that she was a bad person. To me, I saw it as that she wasn’t allowed to be human and shouldn’t have her own opinions, thoughts, and wishes. Near the end of the story, Edna had finally started to do things for herself and started to put herself first, but as soon as she did she had started receiving hate. I think that Edna slowly started to realize that she wanted to start to put herself first and do things that would befit her well-being. She had no longer confined to doing things because she saw it as her duty to put everyone else first and then her second. This reminds me of Nora from the story A Doll’s House by Henrik Isben, Nora had done as she was told and acted the way her husband expected her to act. Nora later seemed to be unhappy with herself and wanted to start putting herself first, just like Edna.

This book certainly surprised me somewhere towards the middle of the book. I was very pleased reading this book and didn’t think that it would be very interesting at all if I’m being completely honest. I also had grown to sympathize with Edan after chapter four and so on, she had received so much hate and was being pinned as the bad person in this story. I think Edna had done the right thing by starting to put herself first, and even though she started putting herself first she never put herself first when it had come to her children, proving also that she does care for her children as well.

The Awakening – Personal Response

This will be a short response, mainly because I read the story, did not think about the questions it raised or read the underlying symbolism.  I only read to page 131 of the book, around part 38 (XXXVIII).  Which further kiboshes my agility and ability on the English obstacle course.  And so…

Hears what I think of the story, as well as my other thoughts.

It seams like a common theme to have a strong female character try and explain (example: Edna can do what she pleases because, she to, is a human being) to a male character, like Robert and Edna, and the man can’t seem to wrap his head around what she is saying.  perhaps it is that I am born in this time or that I’m just weird, but I don’t understand how a man could not wrap their head around some thing so simple.  They can’t seem to just go, “great, your head strong, and you’ve realized that your a human being how can make your own choices.”  He (I’m picking on Robert) just seem to sit there, white in the face, going “what? but but but. ????? *insert abject confusion here* ???”.  They all seem to be hard headed, unable to change in the slightest way.

I also note that Robert is a lot like Mr. Pontellier, a business man who is a man of his time and set in his ways.  But it fascinates me on how much different of a character Robert would be if he stayed when Edna begged him to, or if he did comprehend her notion of, her being free to do what she wants.

Over all the story is good, I hear that others find it slow, but I’ve read slower.  I actually find that it has a fairly pleasant pace.  Chopin paints the world of The Awakening very vividly in my mind, I like having a world that I can sink my teeth in to.  She also paints most of the characters vividly, so that they seem like real people in some fashion or other.  The events of the story shape the characters, but I find them a bit, common.  Which I suppose is the entire reason they’re there.  Same with the characters and the world, everything except Edna, who is different only because she “Awakens”.

The Awakening Personal Response

While reading „the awakening“ by Kate Chopin I had made one real personal opinion, which was that Edna was wrong for what she had done. Edna’s relationship began as almost perfect it seemed only of course in retrospect to the standards held by the book. She was married to Leonce, had two children and was wealthy. However, it didn’t stay that way for long. Edna began to explore her hobbies and extra-curriculars quite frequently and therefore began neglecting her Family. She relinquished all her duties to pursue her hobbies, duties such as taking care of the children and taking care of the household. Frankly I was increasingly disappointed in Edna as she was not thinking about anyone else but her. She had been very selfish without considering her husband or even her kids. I do understand that she was unhappy and therefore had her right to leave her husband, yet she was incredibly inappropriate about it. She did not have get involved with other men before ending things with her husband, knowingly troubling her husband and his image, or abandon her children.

Overall, I believe that Edna’s rash decisions made the book interesting for me as she seemed somewhat unpredictable making every page interesting on its own. Although I do not approve of her methods, I do understand her wishes to leave her husband.  It reminded me somewhat of a “dolls house” as Edna and Nora seemed to be in a similar situation. Well at least mentally. Both appeared to be unsure about their true selves and what they want to do with their own future. Leading to both of them leaving their families however in my opinion Nora left in a more respectable manner, whereas Edna just seemed disrespectful even to her own children,

The Awakening Personal Response

After reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin, I was left to wonder about many things, was Edna a good mother, was Edna a good wife, did Edna truly act like a child and many more. The main one I kept thinking about was, was Edna a good mother to Etienne and Raoul? Throughout the book in our class discussions there was a lot of back and forth about this question, she seems like she only cares for herself and neglects them, or she seems like she cares a lot about them but wants them to grow up and be their own person. 

I believe that Edna was a good mother, multiple times in the book she is seen taking care of her kids and doing things to help them. An example of this is when Edna comes home and Etienne hasn’t been able to sleep or calm down so she picks him up and consoles him till he is sleeping, another example is when her kids are playing in the sun and she moves them to the shade and gets upset with the maid for letting them in the sun for so long. At the end of the book when she is trying to make all of her final decisions she kept repeating to herself “To-day it is Arobin; to-morrow it will be someone else, it makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Leonce Pontellier—but Raoul and Etienne!” (p.136). I don’t think that Edna didn’t want her kids or marriage, she didn’t want the sexist norms or that life, she did love and care for her children but she also wanted her own freedom and to be able to live her own life how she wanted. 

In conclusion, I do believe that Edna is a good mother and always had been, she took care of both of her kids all the time she just wasn’t coddling towards them, she was letting them be independent because she wanted her own independent life. She always thought about them and how they would feel, she just had to think about herself too. 

PR The Awakening

Being a little critical and honest, this was not my favorite book from the year. I found myself being confused with the names since there were a lot of madam’s and mademoiselles, it was sort of new to me as well. What I did like from the book and found very interesting is seeing how Edna responds to society and breaks all of the ideals society has for her as a women. She goes against all of the believes society has for women at that time. There were a few times in where I thought I was watching a Mexican telenovela from all the men she was dating and “messing around”.

Kate Chopin gives us two character perspectives which are complete opposites. Edna and Adele are two very important characters in the text who are also very good friends. The author likes to emphasize how Edna goes against the norms and standards put up by society and she shows how she does not go with the image of what was seen as an “ideal” woman. Mademoiselle Reisz gives another viewpoint to Edna and helps her realize different things throughout the text. She helps her find herself and gives her the emotional force she needed to go against the standards.

The book shows once again how harsh society can be on women with their standards and norms. In our society we can see many changes for them but reading text’s like these ones helps us emphasize in how we treat women and how unfair we can be to them.

Personal Response to The Awakening

In Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, she presents a radicalized idea of society through the viewpoint of Edna Pontellier. Chopin contrasts Edna with two others feminine characters, Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz, constructing a spectrum of “Victorian femininity”.

Adele falls on one extreme side of the spectrum. She is presented as the opposite of Edna, the Victorian feminine ideal. An embodiment of the perfect women, Adele has no desires or real identity outside her role as a mother and wife. She centers her life around her family and domestic duties, prioritizing their wants and needs. By introducing Adele as a close friend of Edna, Chopin provides readers with a clear and striking contrast. This emphasizes the conflicting views of the characters, increasing the significance of Edna’s refusal to conform to societal norms. On the other side of the spectrum, Mademoiselle Reisz is characterized as a rude and ill-tempered woman. She rejects the socially accepted lifestyle of Adele, opting for a life solitude and independence. Mademoiselle serves as a muse and inspiration to Edna, the catalyst of Edna’s radicalization. The relationship between Mademoiselle Reisz and Edna acts as an eye-opener for Edna, allowing Edna to seek an unknown side of her identity, exploring her new-found emotional dept and spiritual freedom.

Throughout the novel, Edna is presented with a dilemma. She could either conform to the socially accepted identity of a Victorian women, living a boring albeit comfortable life, or break away from society’s fixed boundaries, prioritizing her own wants and needs. Choosing the latter, she is immediately met with criticism, stemming from both within and outside the bounds of the novel. Edna is frequently described as “selfish,” a word I find unfitting. The word “selfish” has a negative connotation, portraying Edna in bad light. In my opinion, Edna brings up an intriguing discussion about society.

The concept of society has always been present. However, I question the extent to which society should play a role in dictating the lives of its community. While society is natural and essential for continual of human life, it creates rigid boundaries for its community. Anything that falls outside these margins is automatically rejected and condemned, whereas actions that conform to these norms are accepted and praised. Although society is beneficial to some, to others it acts as a handcuff, restraining their true passions and desires. This realization made me question the true purpose of society, whether society may be what is holding us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves. A difference in opinion has led to the change in norms
and radicalization has made progress throughout time. Ideas that were previously seen as unacceptable are more prone to acceptance in the current time. Nevertheless, change is a long and frustrating process, and I wonder whether the concept of society is source of problems, whether it would warrant systemic change.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin Personal Response

At first I was a little sceptical about reading the book, I thought it would be boring and reading “At the ‘Cadian Ball” and “The Storm” did not help at all. I am not going to lie, I hated reading the book at first, I found it boring, one dimensional, had too many names, too much drama that was not drama because it never became a problem; but after a while I started to grow a liking to Edna. Kate Chopin did not make Edna like the other characters, in the plays and books that we read, for example, in “A Doll’s house” Nora if she were a normal and logical person at that time, she would of never left her husband and kids without planing or she would have to come back in the end from her poor decision, it is those fairy tale finishes that happen but not quite right. On the other hand Edna’s characters has complex emotions but not exaggerated. She was a good mother but not in a way you will expect, she did take care of her children but wasn’t there all of the time. She fell in love with other people while being in a relationship and she accepted those feeling as they came, never neglecting them. She felt lustful when her husband and lover left, causing her to sleep with a man she just found attractive.

Kate Chopin gave us the most person like characters from that time. She did not want her kids but she did love them, she loved someone else and wanted to leave with her husband, she slept with someone else that want the lover or husband and when the lover came home she just ignored him, she hated that she had to be with her friend in a hard time, because let’s be honest, being with a friend going through something that is traumatic to you is hard and sometimes you want to put yourself first. She had valid feeling for not wanting ti be there, she thought those thing but she never went through with them and stayed with her friend all the way through.

In the end after coming to the realization that she was never going to have her perfect life, and if she even wanted to have something remotely close to it she was going to have to fight for it, and fight for it hard, she just went to the place she knew she would find peace, the ocean. She got to the shore and freed herself from her worries, the ocean calling her name, she swam until she got tired, not with the intention of killing herself but to free herself, but what is the difference really, for her those thing are completely different, for her killing herself is not wanting to be alive and hating life, and being freeing herself is letting go of her worries; if you put them side by side they are the same thing really, we do not know what happened after that feeling of nostalgia but we can all imagine what did.

In a way I relate to Edna, she wants to leave, she want to stop fighting and have a tranquil life, a happy life, one without worries, but if you are human that is impossible. Looking for that way to feel free, to relax but still not letting go of life.

I hope she was able to get to shore, leaving her old life behind start a new one, alone, on the beach, I hope she was able to smell those flowers again, and cherish the memories she made —with Mlle Reisz, Mme Ratignolle, Alcée Arobin, Léonce, her children, and Robert Lebrun— but not missing them, get a new old dog she could hear barking. I just hope she was able to come back and enjoy the little things in life.

PR: The Awakening

Out of all of the pieces of literature we have studied this year, The Awakening by Kate Chopin has to be the story that caught my attention the most. This book may not have been the most interesting to read – in fact I would even say that it was the least entertaining piece of literature we have read so far. I did not particularly enjoy the actual reading of this book, however there are other things that did strike me as interesting.

The main thing that I noticed when reading this was how controversial it was and still is. This book deals with adultery, feminism, lesbianism and suicide, which all stuck out to me for different reasons. Feminism and lesbianism are relatively accepted today. In the 19th century when this book was written, these ideas were not so accepted and I can see how they would be controversial. Not to mention that adultery and suicide are both topics that are still controversial today. Seeing these themes in this book was really quite a shock to me as I never would have expected to read a book like this that was written in the 19th century.

After the initial shock of realizing what type of book this was, I began to think of the story and the events taking place in a more analytical sense, and how these themes tie into the suggestions of the plot. One of the big things I noticed when doing this was that there is a very strong resemblance of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen in this book. To start, feminism is a key concept in both works. There was a big connection of the issues raised by the main female lead realizing they don’t want to be with their husband, and want to be freed from the social standards put in place by society. I had this realization in the back of my mind while reading the book, but when I read the ending, I was even more certain of my ideas. Both books end with the main female character becoming “freed” from their husbands and the socials standards mentioned previously. That being said, not everyone may see it that way. Because Edna Pontellier in The Awakening commits suicide, it is probably brushed off by most as a sad ending. For me, it gives off mixed impressions. Edna was no longer happy being confined to the norms she was forced within by society, and more importantly by her husband and father. Because of this, her committing suicide in the end may not have been a sad ending after all. If Edna would really rather be dead than forced into the life she had, then this is just an act of her standing up for herself, making her even more empowered. The fact that she went against society and the “authoritative figures” (her father and husband) in her life proves that Edna stood up for herself in a way. This action is very similar to how Nora leaves her husband who treats her the same as her father did in A Doll’s House. Notice how both women feel confined mainly by two men: their husband and their father. Both women then seek to be freed from this, and ultimately do. This raises many questions about women’s role in society. Should women be allowed to leave their families and children? Why is it seen as the mother’s duty to care for her children? Due to the time period these texts were written in, I can image how they were both very controversial.

This wasn’t the only scene that really caught my eye in The Awakening, but it was the part that made me see the strongest connection between this book and A Doll’s House. Due to my personal response already being too long for people to want to read, I can’t share any of the other connections I noticed throughout the story. Although I didn’t really enjoy reading the book, I did enjoy the story overall and especially found it interesting to look at this text and previous texts and see the connection between them.

The Awakening Personal Response

Out of all the widely discussed topics in the field of arts, love might be one of those that is the most talked about and seems to be the most complicated to grasp on. The Awakening, is one prime example that had successfully posed the question about monogamy and infidelity, not in the way that made us want to criticize Edna, but wanting to understand and empathize with her.

We had all understood that for longest time ever, monogamy is most often to be expected in every couple, simply because it works. However, it is that just because it works, Chopin had potrayed the characters so well that it is easy for us to empathize with Edna and really questions about it. Edna is married to Léonce, who in the worst case, can only be described as quite boring in the readers’ eyes since he had fulfilled all that is of his role as a father and a husband. Despite all that, Edna still questions and follow with what she desires. It is because of this that make the Awakening worth questioning: if we have a husband who can fulfill everything, what point is there to cheat on him? So in this case, we have a situation of Edna not being entirely being a selfish person, but she is on her process of understanding herself. Although it is not fully justified that it is right for Edna to cheat, but as with any responsibility Edna has, she also has a responsibility to herself, to understand who she is. This theme was also well mentioned in A Doll’s House.

The Awakening had also posed a new definition about love that is also worth considering. This is most evident in the moment when Alcée kissed Edna: she was not really in love with him, but rather wished it was Robert who kissed her. So, in this sense, we can have someone we enjoy to engage in romantic acts with but not really loving them, which had brought a new dimension into how we can look at polyamory: we can love someone but to not have sex with them, but we can also have sex but not loving the other person. It shows how much awareness Edna has and provides more depth into her characteristics.

The Awakening although did not end with a good note, but after reading it, I believe it is a well-crafted mirror for anyone who is wanting answers for this question: What is it that I am looking for a relationship?

The Awakening Personal Response

After reading “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, I had mixed emotions about how the story ended. The protagonist Edna, starts off by being happily married to her husband Leonce, with her 2 children. She is unaware of what she truly wants. As the story progresses, Edna starts to value her ambitions and independence rather than being a “good wife” Edna feels suffocated in her marriage and prioritises painting, and spends time with other men instead of doing what she is expected to do as a “good mother and wife” I think there were a lot of women in the 1800s who felt the same way Edna did, but was too afraid to verbalise their opinions or take action as going against the strict gender norms would catch others attention and harsh judgement.  I think valuing your own wishes can be a positive thing to an extent. However, I think Edna took it too far to the point where her actions were not justifiable. For example, paying little attention to her children and eventually leaving her children without a mother. 

I think Mr Pontellier, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Ratignolle were great additions to the story. It helped portrait the ideal husband and wife in the 1800s and what was out of the ordinary. Madame Ratignolle advises Edna to “think about her children” when she suspects Edna for having an affair with Alcee. Mr. Pontellier reminded me of Higgins from Pygmalion. They were both portrayed as the typical materialistic husbands in the 1800/early 1900s who failed to give their wives what they truly wanted. Mr. Pontellier’s focus on business blinds him from the self realisation and emotional growth Edna is going through. This results in not noticing that Edna has left him when she rents her own house.Mademoiselle Reisz, an independent self-sufficient woman, serves as a major  inspiration throughout Edna’s awakening. Edna is drawn and inspired by Mademoiselle Reisz’s piano performance and her love and passion for music. 

The ending was not what I expected. Edna abandons her children, Leonce and ignores the advice Madame Ratignolle gives, “ think about the children” and sets herself free by going for a swim. Chopin does not make the ending clear, it is left for the readers to interpret how Edna dies. I think If she continued to live as an independent rebellious woman, Edna could have become a self-reliant woman like Mademoiselle Reisz and grow to be an extraordinary example for her children especially in the 1800s when there were strict gender norms that were to be followed. 

 

The Awakening Personal Response

After reading “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, it left me with doubts about Edna’s decision at the end of killing herself, whether it is right or wrong? The way it is written is in a very descriptive way to understand Edna’s feelings and the society she lives in. It was boring for me. However, the question that it raised, made me think about Edna at the end getting away wether it was right or wrong.

Edna did not want to face what people thoughts about her after everything that happened and what was about to happened. She kills herself and just thinking about her children. There is one side that we can see it as right as she is not happy in her life, she feels tied on something that she does not want to,

“She thought of Leonce and her children. They were a part in her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul” (p.137)

She was thinking of her family but she is not happy anymore, she feels obligated in something that she once felt comfortable in. In the book the author conveys different events that shows Edna trying to escape from her feelings form her life. Showing that not always mothers are comfortable with their lives. But can we justified what she did? She only thinks about her children as a way of justifying what she is doing as the right thing for her. However, if we think about the children, what is going to happen with them after knowing their mother is dead? There was another way to get out of her life like moving to somewhere else.

The author gives a drastic change at the end to convey a feminist point of view that started since the begginig with Edna’s character in their society. Being an independent woman who doesn’t like her life being “possessed” by Mr. Pontellier as in normal society. Killing herself because of society.

I did not like the book, the story was not interesting. However, the author does a good job in conveying the idea of infidelity and not make the story predictable in that idea as we are used to the consequences of it and giving it a different path with Edna’s character.

The Awakening – Personal Response

Reading this book, we get to learn about Edna’s awakening and her experiences with growing as an individual. We are able to see the hardships of her willingness to meet society’s standards of “motherhood” and how her relationships with not only her children but her romantic relationships expressed her awakening. Edna most often prioritized herself and her own independence over her children. This made me connect The Awakening directly with A Doll’s House, a play we had read previously. I see a strong resemblance in character between Nora and Edna. Both characters not truly knowing themselves and being dictated and forced to adhere to societal standards. Both women were not happy in their current state and had enough. The expectations for women in both pieces of literature were high. Women and mothers had to take on a large role in taking care of their family and being a good housewife. Edna and Nora are two women that disregarded these expectations and eventually had a turning point which resulted in them leaving for themselves. I don’t think it was wrong for these women to leave, I think it was strong of them to do so but I don’t think they should have abandoned their children.

The ending was shocking to me as I did not see the death of Edna coming. This raised many questions for me. What was Kate Chopin indicating with this ending? It was left ambiguous and up to the readers to interpret, which was not favorable for me. I question whether or not the death was intentional? What did Edna’s death represent? Was she leaving behind society and the high standards society had towards motherhood? What realization does Edna have before she swims out and loses strength? To me, I believe her death was intentional and she had to leave for herself. She might have come to the realization that the life she was living was not the life she wanted for herself. We learn that she has a perfect husband and many other companions that fill her needs, she has lovely children and many friends but she is still unhappy. She wanted rid of the high standards and expectations society had for her. Edna had always felt a sense of freedom and independence when swimming and perhaps she wanted to leave Grand Isle with that same sense of freedom and independence. 

Overall, this novel was interesting and raised many questions and further discussions, especially towards the end. I am curious to learn how other readers interpret the ending.

 

Personal Response on The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin illustrates Edna Pontellier’s “awakening” journey, going against social convention and doing whatever she enjoys. I will discuss how Kate Chopin raises different questions and my thoughts on the book in this response.

Edna’s journey of ‘awakening’ is Edna achieving freedom from social conventions from her friends, husband, and even children. I perceive Edna’s awakening journey as her trying to find true happiness and freedom. Chopin displays this by using the ocean to symbolize her freedom. “A feeling of exultation overtook her as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before”(p. xxx). Not only is the ocean an escape for Edna, but it also has a long history of historical importance to women’s empowerment. The moon and ocean are connected with women’s menstrual cycle, and many women goddesses, such as Aphrodite, Amphitrite, and Sirens. She even gets naked before she enters the water. This suggests that she is getting reborn. It also symbolizes she is undressing from social convention and responsibility. 

The role of being a mother is something Kate Chopin questions through Edna’s journey. I think her children are the biggest obstacle for her to be free. Throughout the story, Madame Ratigonolle often influences her on the ideal role of a mother and Edna often questions herself. “Think of the children, Edna. Oh, think of the children! Remember them!” (P.131) “The children appeared before her like little antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into soul’s slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to elude them.” (P.127) It suggests that Edna isn’t connected to her children like the stereotypical mother would be. Some people just aren’t supposed to have kids, and Edna is one of them.

In the beginning, I was not too fond of Edna and thought she is a horrible wife and mother. I felt that she did not know how to appreciate how blessed her life was, considering that she is a middle-class, white woman. After I learned more about Edna, I thought she is a brave woman and a badass woman for going against social convention and doing whatever she pleased, especially when women did not have any authority. The process of her achieving freedom from society and letting go of the stereotypical role of a wife and even a mother was very inspiring to me. For example, should we go against social convention and do whatever we please? How would society become if we all follow Edna?

Another character that I am strongly attached to when reading is Robert. I think Robert is selfless and a true gentleman. Even if he is in love with Edna and knows that she would leave Leonce for him, he still goes to Mexico and leaves Edna in the end, knowing that it is the right thing to do. I can imagine the pain he is going through for him not staying with the love of his life and having to follow social conventions. This also shows that Robert is a victim of society. He fails to “awake” like Edna and chooses to follow what society thinks is correct. 

I found the story fascinating; however, I think the story’s ending was unnecessary and forced. Edna is presented as a strong woman and mother who does not care or give up despite society’s telling. The reason that she was so upset was that Robert had left her that night. She gives up her children, her husband, her friends and Robert, and this made me think that killing herself was selfish and inhumane. This is because she gave up her role as a mother, and the children would have to grow up without a mother and a dad that is often absent. Robert would have to live on feeling guilty, thinking that he is the cause of Edna’s death. Though I do understand why Kate Chopin would do this, as killing herself shows the amount of suffering that Edna has to bear, and she would instead give up her life than continue the suffering/following social conventions. Or killing herself is the final way of achieving absolute freedom and cutting every attachment and responsibility.

 

The Awakening

I already suspected after the first chapters that this story would not have a happy ending which got my interest for reading. The course of the story is mostly expected and there are few surprises. Often uninspired, the chatter of fine society ripples along. “Like a sad lullaby” the sea breaks in the night, a classic place of longing. Edna’s husband, who looks at her “like a precious piece of personal property,” reproaches her for inattention and neglect of the children. An “indescribable gloom” fills Edna’s being, which is elsewhere described as thoroughly lively and radiant. For the Doll’s House play it was different, the beginning seemed more boring because everything was described as “perfect” but after time we saw how unhappy that “perfect” made the people so the plot was not expected in the beginning.

The author makes no secret of the state of the Pontelliers’ marriage: the protagonist receives recognition for the “best husband in the world” from others. She herself feels “forced to admit that she doesn’t know anyone better”. Their conflict takes place behind the bourgeois facade and within. Also in Nora and Torwalld’s relationship was hiding their problems behind a marriage that seems perfect the most important thing. But we could clearly see that Nora was really trying to fit in that “perfect” life, that she did everything she was expected to. For Edna I think it was different because she did more what she wanted to than what was expected of her to do. Also her character didn’t had the development of Nora’s, which was really important for the tension of the text.

At that time, the woman was still the property of the man, had no opinion to have. But Edna tries to break out of this cage, like Nora did. Against all social dictates, regardless of the social relegation that goes along with it. She wants to free herself from these burdens that would otherwise crush her for life. Not without reason, then, The Awakening is considered a feminist book or a story of the women’s movement. Edna is a hero who at least tries to go her own way.

 

The Awakening PR Sergio Camarillo

Through out the reading of the awakening, I always felt that edna’s character development was very good as she constantly evolved and became her own person. Yet I felt that her actions were morally incorrect. Granted at first it was good because she stopped being an object/belonging to her husband but her rebellion was little by little being taken too far. She didn’t want to obey society’s rules and wanted to be her own person, free of any burdens and that ultimately cost her her life.

 I think that separating herself from Pontellier is fine because she didn’t want to marry him and if she is unhappy with her partner that’s totally fine, but casting away her children and not loving them that much isn’t ok. She did love them but the moment she wasn’t with them she forgot about them. She was a good mother though because her children were independent and when they needed her mother she was there, but killing herself at the end was very selfish of her part. The kids now don’t have a mother and she would rather die than keep being there for her kids.

Besides this, the affair she had with arobin wasn’t very justified and even after sleeping with him and feeling remorse, she still did it again because she succumbed to her desires. This would be fine if she didn’t love Robert, but that wasn’t the case. Granted they weren’t together, but she would get jealous if he did the same. Both were in he wrong in this case and just shows how far her rebellion took her that she doesn’t even know what to do.

Lastly, killing herself was a very selfish action. The book portrays it as a freeing thing and like she achieves what she wanted but I feel like its plain wrong. Sure she got what she wanted in the last moments: peace and freedom without a care in the world. But she abandoned her children, left them without a mother and left Robert. Even though they couldn’t be together that moment, probably in the future they could if circumstances were given. With suicide, the thing is you never know whats going to happen in the future.

She rejected everything to be at peace, but life isn’t that way and you can have peace but you also have to work for it, and she took the easy way out rather than keep facing motherhood and moving on. Its portrayed as a poetic action but I felt it was way too selfish and was the wrong decision at it reminded me of Nora. The difference is that Edna went through with that decision and gave up everything.

The Awakening Personal Response

The Awakening by Kate Chopin was a very interesting story that shocked me, especially towards the end. While reading this story, I was raised with many questions regarding motherhood and being a “good wife” and what that truly means. Like many novels we have read this year, I didn’t get clear answers to the many questions I had. However, by the end of the novel, I had raised many more. The two themes that stood out to me were the similarities between Edna and Nora from A Doll’s House, society’s expectations for the roles of a woman, mother, and wife concerning these women, and the symbolism of the sea in the story.

Edna is a woman who feels pressured by societal expectations and is stuck in a loveless marriage . However, throughout the novel, she slowly begins turning her thoughts into action and aligning her inner self with her outer self. This reminded me a lot of Nora from A Doll’s House. We see that at the beginning of both of these works of literature, these women feel conformed to the “roles “they must follow and towards the end, they both gain strength and go away from what society wants and do what they want. Both of these women were in relationships where they were not paid attention to like people. Even though Mr. Ponteiller was not like Torvald, the way the women felt was very similar. The feeling of being stuck. There were a lot of criticisms of how these women could abandon their children and leave. Both of these women expressed how they would not give themselves away, but that does mean they didn’t care about their families. They were both stuck in situations where all they did was care about the needs of their families and everyone around besides themselves. They both focused on the needs and requirements of their husbands, not even knowing themselves as individuals. They didn’t take the time to understand themselves as people and grow; they both had their breaking points where they rebelled and left. This shows the contrast between these two women and women at that time who felt the same way and kept silent.

The sea was a representation that was referred to several times in this novel to represent the awakening process of Edna as a woman who strived to be free and escape the life she was living. Free of being the perfect wife and the perfect mother.Free from the dominance of her husband and being confined to segregated roles. Free from all the oppression she was dealing with within herself. Free from her husband, her children and the pressure of societal norms. The sea was something Edna always observed in the novel. In the novel, we see her observing how others can swim and she cannot, representing the freedom and independence she longed for at the story’s beginning. However the end of the story, we see developments and a change when Edna approaches the sea from her perspective. Edna gains significant confidence in herself when she eventually learns to swim: “A feeling of exultation overtakes her as if some power of significant import had been given her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out….”
This passage shows that Edna was able to fight back her fears and go swimming, going deeper and deeper, leaving all the world’s responsibilities, issues and judgment behind her as the ocean taking her away forever.

Overall I had a lot of mixed emotions about this story and how I truly felt about the different characters; I don’t think it’s right for anyone to be unloyal to each other, in the case where Edna just cheated on her husband. However, the awakening of Edna and her feelings towards her life mirrored many women in the nineteenth century, as well as women today who are trapped by cultural conventions.

The Awakening – PR

The Awakening by Kate Chopin was about Edna breaking free from her traditional role in society and becoming free as a woman. The story begins with Edna in a marriage with two children. From the get go we get a feeling of disconnect from her family and her marriage to Léonce. An example is when Edna is talking with her friends and we get the passage, “they all declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs. Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better” (p. 8). Léonce her husband is set up as a typical husband from the 1800s who is very controlling over his wife. Edna from the start feels like an object or valuable piece of jewelry to her husband as shown when Edna says, “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (p. 128). This situation that the story begins in, sets up the rest of the story for her awakening and makes the problem the book is addressing clear. 

    One of the key characters in the story is Adele. She is set up as a perfect motherly figure in order to show contrast between her and Edna. Adele is in the story shown as beautiful, earthly, never complains and basically a perfect mother. She is also pregnant which further fits her into her role in traditional society in the 1800s. On the other hand we have Edna who is shown to care for her children but doesn’t make them her life and instead prioritized herself. The existence of Adele makes Edna’s want of being a free woman more impactful and clear to see as a reader.

    This story uses other men to also show Edna’s awakening from society. She loves Robert, hooks up with Alcee Aroban, and is married to Léonce Pontelier. On the surface this may seem like she is not a very good woman however in the context of the story it makes sense. Edna wants to be free of her societal role so she doesn’t bother to stay loyal to her husband who treats her as an object and instead loves who she wants to love. This is an awakening for edna to be able to love whoever she wants however I think she is still somewhat trapped to society as shown when she commits suicide in the last chapter. I believe this is saying that the pressure from society on women is enormous and even if you try to break free society you will just ruin yourself and be all alone. This makes me wonder if the author Kate Chopin felt the same as Edna and is trying to tell us the reader that society doesn’t have room for those who break free from it. It’s as if she is criticizing the way the world is and wants society to change and becoming willing to accept people who break free from the standards.

The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, was a very interesting and analytical read. The writing itself was done very well, but I could not help disliking it because of the extent to which it described scenes and did not get to the point in a direct way. Kate Chopin instead created the characters to be real people with real feelings and actions which I could relate to in some ways. The characters contradicted themselves to an extent, but that is what made them so life like. The endless descriptions of the scenery and the characters meticulous lives made it difficult to grasp the importance rather than the overall picture.

Kate Chopin wrote the story focused mainly upon the protagonist: Edna. She was both inspirational, and looked down upon for her actions. I viewed what she did as inspirational for woman during this time; the late 1800s, however she was written to be the extreme, proven by the many men she entangled herself with outside of her marriage. I am not confounded by the prospect of moving outside of a marriage when there is no love involved, being a reader however, I cannot help but see the way she goes about this as unnecessarily hurtful to the people around her. I would hope that there would be other possibilities or ways that she could free herself of her marriage before her love story with Robert and her lust with Lycée Arobin, both betraying the other. During the time this was written, the controversiality possessed in this novel was necessary to create an impact on the standards of marriage during this time.

The novel written by Kate Chopin (1899) reminded me of Pygmalion (1912), because of the like protagonists and the concept of middle class morality. Both Mrs. Pontellier (Edna) and Ms. Doolittle (Eliza) are constricted by the society which they live in. Eliza Doolittle coming from the lower class requests language lessons, and eventually over succeeds these language lessons becoming that of royalty in the way she speaks. “You think I like you to say that. But I haven’t forgot what you said a minute ago; and I won’t be coaxed round as if I was a baby or a puppy. If I can’t have kindness, I’ll have independence” (Shaw p. 70). These words spoken from Eliza Doolittle when Higgins tells her she can marry a prince really rung a bell for me, because this is exactly the predicament that Edna ended up in. She married a rich man which she lacks any form of love for. Eliza and Edna are two sides of the same coin, except Edna is married and Eliza is free of marriage.

All in all, I enjoyed analyzing the novel: The Awakening, but the pacing was slow and the descriptions were tedious. The novel has also lost some amount of relevance because of the feminist movements that are currently happening and the rate of divorces spiking. That said, there is still situations like this still happening.

“The Awakening”: a woman breaking out of the sexist norms that society has set for her

After finishing “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, the reader is left with a lot to think about. For me I was stuck on the idea of whether Edna was a good mother. She would neglect her children and family, but never to the point that she was an absent mother, but then again the book ended with Edna drowning herself, leaving her children motherless. However in my interpretation Chopin wasn’t trying to illustrate a bad mother who was also generally turned into a bad woman because she didn’t want to fit into her societal normal anymore. For me Chopin was trying to show the mental struggle and power a woman needs to get out of her societal norm of the “American Dream” or the idea that a wife is solely responsible for taking care of home and children.

This version of how Edna is depicted I think was made popular by the feminists that discovered Chopin’s work and brought light to it. This story in particular as I interpret it shows a woman breaking out of the sexist norms that society has set for her, and that being a difficult tasks fails under the stress of it all. To conclude I think that “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin was possibly something of a real life story she has witnessed because women of her time couldn’t break these sexist norms. Looking back on this story however we can get an idea of the struggles women silently had because of societies sexist rules and norms.

The Awakening PR

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is one of my least favourite pieces of literature that we have studied this year. I had trouble reading it and kept getting lost and having to reread passages. The actual plot of the book is not the boring part. It is the English that was spoken and how it was spoken, and how there is too much narration and description rather than dialogue and conversation.

Kate Chopin does a great job of representing a whole group of people in the character Edna. This also made the story more interesting as it added a plot. In the 1800s women were not leaders of their families and basically took a “motherly” role and took care of the children. Edna, after realizing that she was in love with someone else started to find out who she really was. This made the book more fun to read as she was always breaking societal rules, such as infidelity.

Mr. Pontellier was thought to be the perfect husband by almost every character in the book. I never really liked his character. He, like Torvald from A Dolls House and Mr. Higgins from Pygmalion is ignorant. He tries to do all these nice things like buying her gifts, but he doesn’t really know what she wants out of him. He does not treat her as his wife, he treats her as his property. There are faults to both Mr. Pontellier and Edna that could easily be fixed with a simple conversation.

I do not think Edna has the right to cheat on her husband, especially with two different people. I understand that divorce was not really an option in this time, but she could have tried to tell him how she was feeling.

We can tell that Edna was never really free being married to Mr. Pontellier. “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (p. 128). Robert brings her joy which never seems to happen when she is with Mr. Pontellier. “The sentiment which she entertained for Robert in no way resembled that which she felt for her husband, or had ever felt, or ever expected to feel” (p. 55). She should be telling Mr. Pontellier how she feels because her life to me begins to feel wasted. She knows that Robert makes her feel happier. Even the description about her moving to a different house brought her more freedom which shows how she was trapped with Mr. Pontellier and wanted to escape.

In conclusion I did not really like this novel but Kate Chopin does a good job making the reader make judgments on the characters and what they could have done in different situations.

 

 

Personal Response to The Awakening (Kate Chopin)

I’m not quite sure what to think about this one. Kate Chopin’s novel, entitled The Awakening, is generally considered her magnum opus, as well as what incited the end of her writing career as a result of it’s “scandalous” message.  Naturally, it should be fun to examine.

The thing that struck me with the most force and frequency was the writing style and structure. There’s a lot of description in this story, and as a result reading it can often feel like a chore. As a direct result of this, The Awakening is extremely slow paced. In addition, the story’s narrative structure is a little bit odd. The best adjective I can use to describe it is “meandering.” In the moment, very few events have a lasting impact on future events; the characters just jump from one location to the next, dialogue is said, people and things are described, Edna (the protagonist) reacts, moving on. Combined with the lack of rising action, falling action, or any real climactic event, the reading experience in general feels rather flat. The way I say this makes it sound like a detriment, but while it may have negatively affected my enjoyment of the story, it definitely serves a purpose. The Awakening is a story-driven character study, and choses to express its ideas through a slice of life format. Chopin is, through these largely disconnected events, showing us Edna’s gradual journey towards self-actualization. Each event doesn’t necessarily contribute to the story, but together, they create a well-developed character arc for the protagonist.

In class discussions, the topic of Edna’s morality was frequently brought up. These were discussions that I didn’t often participate in, as my own thoughts on this topic were not really fully formed, and as of right now, they still aren’t. My current interpretation is that Edna is written as a flawed, fallible character, with goals and desires that conflict with the world around her, rather than an objectively “bad” or “good” person. Weather this was an active decision on the author’s part, I’m not sure, but it certainly helps Edna feel like a real person, with real thoughts and emotions. The parts of the story in the middle and end when Edna began exercising her agency were easily the most enjoyable scenes in the entire book for that very reason.

The Awakening: Releasing from Middle-Class Mediocracy and its Restriction on Desire

The Awakening by Kate Chopin published 1899 is a dramatic novel which elicits various topics concerning the societal obligations which many of us are confronted with. An obligation in the context of the society of the people in this essay is a requirement which seems completely obligatory from the view of the public, however, is indifferent towards whether it applies to the person themself. It could be constrictive, or deconstructive for the person, as they either align with or misalign with certain conformities. To demonstrate this, is the example of the lead character of this book, Edna Pontellier, who exhibits the struggles, and the blessings, of middle-class life. She pushes against the barriers imposed upon her way of life, forming new ideals and uncovering new lifestyles, ones that fill the void of her suppressed passion. Then the integrity and stability provided by society falls away, and Edna finds herself breached and despondent, now confronting a new set of problems within her moral self, the uncertainty of who she wants to be. Therefore, we see how societal standards provide, yet take away, from our psychological proficiency.

Edna, due to her role as wife of her family, has her duties to maintain the structure and image her family holds. “If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it?”, (Ch. III) Edna is expected to cater to the satisfactions and demands of her children. “’Why, my dear, I should think you’d understand by this time that people don’t do such things; we’ve got to observe les convenances…’”, (Ch. XVII) where Edna is told she cannot be absent for her in-home day, where neighbours and friends stop by to visit: “do such things”, and that she must follow the regulations of propriety: “observe les convenances”. Her peers do not attempt to interpret how such expectations would not be fair to her, her husband Mr. Pontellier expects her to upkeep the form and function of their family, society would require her to maintain prim and proper relations, to be consistent in her behaviour, to show ‘class’. “’Why?’ asked her companion. ‘Why do you love him when you ought not to?’” (Ch. XXVI) The social expectations afflicted upon Edna are evidently without her input, therefore apply pressure to restrict her character and sense of being.

Such inhibitions to her sense of being, disallowance of her own expression affected Edna on a psychological level. “She could not have told why she was crying. Such experiences as the foregoing were not uncommon in her married life. They seemed never before to have weighed much against the abundance of her husband’s kindness and a uniform devotion which had come to be tacit and self-understood,” (Ch. III). Edna realizes that she severely lacks self-satisfaction and begins seeking spiritual outlets away from her monotonous life, building a new sense of being, “…Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her,” (Ch. IV). Things of freedom, wandering, free of constraint, “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander…” (Ch. IV). Edna was finding she was opposed against all social constructions, segregations and structures on how to behave. She despises elements of the middle-class life like marriage, “The acme of bliss, which would have been a marriage with the tragedian, was not for her in this world.” (Ch. XXVII) An interesting exposition of Edna’s changes come from chapter seven, showing for one of the few times throughout the novel, the interior thought patterns of Edna, “Mrs. Pontellier was not a woman given to confidences, a characteristic hitherto contrary to her nature. Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself,” and “she felt she would take her place with a certain dignity in the world of reality, closing the portals forever behind her upon the realm of romance and dreams.” These quotes are significant, for they tell us in which specifically the changes in personality Edna undergoes. Even as a child, she experienced both sides of her conflict in personality, inhibiting her desires and passions, while holding fantasies of “romance and dreams”. It is possible that Edna truly desired her dreams at a younger age, however she may have been influenced by opinions of figures of society, to want a married “romance”, and dreams “money and respectability”. She would have stymied her true desires for fake longings, and it is arguable of that being responsible for her sense of confinement. Evident is how society causes a deficit in mental health of its subjects, causing internalization of feelings, and loss of sense of meaning.

Edna begins feeling passion again, finding things that speak to her person, doing wonders for her attractiveness, “…from the listless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant with the forces of life. Her speech was warm and energetic,” (Ch. XXIII). It would seem with following her passions, contradicting society, Edna’s vibrancy of character and appeal to be around grows, showing how being the way she wants worked amazingly for her, and for her health. Unfortunately, where happiness may come from flouting the law, reality still comes crashing down to ruin it. We begin to see how Edna begins feeling the oppression of society, “There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual,” (Ch. XXXII). While having risen in the spiritual sense includes higher senses of happiness, it also involves deeper senses of sadness, of and regret. “It was not despair; but it seemed to her as if life were passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled,” (Ch. XV). “The present alone was significant; was hers, to torture her as it was doing then with the biting conviction that she had lost that which she had held,” (Ch. XIV) Edna regrets losing the stability, security provided by society, for when following passion, it requires strength, as there are no barriers preventing from being lost, or run over, or veering off in one direction, so to speak. Mme. Reisz, a friend, speaking to Edna said, “’The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth,’” (Ch. XXVII). Although interpretable in multiple ways, this quote coincides with what afflicts Edna, for with following her lust, she came upon the difficulties imposed by being independent from a society that imposes an alternate lifestyle. Edna soars “above” tradition, which is a formidable thing to do, as it involves avoiding being “bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.”

It is eventually society which ended Edna, for while benefitting from breaking free of her chains, she found that there was naught in her world which she still desired. “There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” (Ch. XXXIX) She lost her passion, personified by Robert, her long love throughout the novel. A void replaced her passion when she lost her potential of being with Robert, and that I would argue is what strove her to end her life. I am bewildered by how she would decide there is no passion elsewhere to discover, yet countless I regard her decision justified, for in the realm of emotion only figurative ideas can form decisions. The most logical conclusion is to say she found not enough in the world for which allowed her to be the way she desired, “’But I don’t want anything but my own way. That is wanting a good deal, of course, when you have to trample upon the lives, the hearts, the prejudices of others…’” (Ch. XXXVIII). The irony is that before, coinciding with social standards, Edna had felt she was missing an element in her sense of being, same thing after she changed, “Despondency had come upon her there in the wakeful night, and had never lifted,” (Ch. XXXIX). There are perils to both sides, and perhaps both sides lack an element the other side has. It might be, if Edna had persevered and continued to live, she would have pursued a more balanced lifestyle, one allowing expression of her passion while also giving her the foundation society provides.

The conflict of person vs. society is a common trope, not only in stories, but also among us in the real life. What The Awakening may have taught us is that there are benefits to being a stable and ‘respectable’ old-fashioned middle-class style personality, or a rebellious and free-spirited one. We all seek freshness, freedom of expression, yet we take up relationships with those we love, and follow routines. This is indeterminable by external factors, I would say, for the truth of what convenes best to us is found within, therefore makes little sense, and requires time and discovered understanding to eventually be able to answer. Often when we are young, we choose to break free from the society, to live free, without our parents, on the road. Then we return after a while, sit down, get a job, live stationary. This is a common observation, yet is the opposite in Edna’s case, who had spent much of her adulthood without the necessary step of already having explored her will for freedom. I would argue the massive shock of having all this longing to be free thrown at her may have been a bit much for her, for through understanding and following it, she went to the opposite extreme of where she was before, through the severity of her feeling. That is why I regret her death, and wish she would have seen through the extremity, to return perhaps to a place a better emotional stability.

The Awakening elicits many inquisitions on the nature of the human mind, making us wonder how we are influenced by the world we live in, and how that affects how we choose the way we wish to be. The novel gives one of the most in-depth expositions of the cognitive strife involved in breaking from an old way of being, for going ‘free’, like in many stories, showing in detail what type of incentives were required for Edna to break from society, and the influence that had on her. Edna enjoys no longer conforming to society’s expectations, yet by leaving the security of society, she faced the risk of losing her willpower and strength to be different, “’The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.” Therefore, the benefits of living conservatively, or freely, have their opposites benefits, and it is forever debatable which side is best to follow for anyone, and how we should go about approaching our lives between the two sides.

Personal Response to The Awakening

The Awakening, a novel written by Kate Chopin takes place in the very early 1900s New Orleans. The main character being Edna Pontellier, throughout the story we can see her struggles and death at the end of the novel. I was left with many questions at the end of the book like “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”, “Is Edna selfish?”, “What is a good marriage?”, and “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”.

For the first question I have which is “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”. I don’t think Edna is a bad person because it seems as though throughout a lot of the story she is mentally unstable, her life is almost at a constant flux of emotions and therefore she is not in the right headspace and if she was I feel as though she would be a better person, and when Mme. Ratingolle was sick she took care of her, despite her and Robert having a very lovey dovey conversation. She is in some form a “bad wife”, due to the fact that she is literally cheating on him with another man, and is very much so in love with another man other than Leonce. She isn’t a bad mother though, she still throughout the story seems to be very loving towards her kids and takes care of them and thinks of them.

For the second question I have which is “Is Edna selfish?”, I do think she is selfish, this is mostly due to the fact she is taking away her pain just to feel good, even though she is scarring plenty of her friends and close family members.

For the third question I have is “What is a good marriage?”, I feel as though that a good marriage is one where both people in the marriage love each other, they keep their distance from each other (so they don’t burn each other out), and neither are financially dependent on the other. For example if the father wasn’t working while the mother has a job, I feel as though it creates a power dynamic in the way that like one feels as though they are doing more and could cause tension between them that would get in the way of other things. That’s why I feel as though it’s good if both parents work and it also helps stop parents being burned out by each other.

For the final question I have is “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”, Some of the main obligations that parents have to their kids are like loving them, supporting them, and the obvious stuff. With the supporting them part I’m mostly talking about like whatever job they choose, whatever stuff they like to do, and stuff like that. The obvious stuff mostly includes like food, shelter, water, and clothes.

Reflection on The Awakening

Chopin’s The Awakening showcases individuality compared to society’s conventions. Edna Pontellier, who the main character of this book. She is trying to break away from society’s standard conventions of the time in order to find reason and individuality rather than listening to what others find proper or correct, instead of making decisions on her own and only letting her define who she really is.

Society when this was written was extremely strict in what women could do and what their actions meant. Edna is an upper-class woman married to a profitable hardworking man who seems to view her just as a status symbol rather than someone who he loves. Some people wonder why she wouldn’t just get a divorce and find somebody who actually loves her for who she is, and she does the same too. Once women became divorced back then she is looked at as a used car as if it’s worthless. Therefore, women were pretty much forced to stay within these unhealthy marriages in order to keep value and respect to their names. Edna rebels against the rules of society and leaves home and moves into a new house down the street. When Mr.Pontellier learns of what Edna’s plans are, he puts their house under renovations to make it look like there was a reason for Edna to leave the house. Mr. Pontellier was never thinking of his relationship with his wife, “he was simply thinking of his financial integrity. It might get noised about that the Pontellier’s had met reverses and were forced to conduct their Menage on a humbler scale than heretofore.” (P. 110) Edna to Mr. Pontellier is just a symbol of their status. He only cares about how their family looks to the rest of the world rather than accepting the other person for who they are.

Edna, we see throughout the book become a woman who is independent who does not rely on others or belong to others. She chooses what she wants and focuses on her needs like she never has before. “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘here Robert takes her and be happy; I should laugh at you both.” Edna’s relationship with Mr. Pontellier has become meaningless and she does not see him as her husband who should control what she does anymore. This shows her becoming more aware of what she could do on her own without having to be dependant. Lower-class people constantly have to wake up every day and go to work in order to survive and have a hope that one day they will be able to retire happily. Middle-class women in the same stuck position as Edna, have lots of time to wonder what their purpose is, what they want to achieve, what goals do they have. Society sadly seemed to put a cap on the potential of women by locking them into boxes which they could which should never be done to anyone.

The question of what killed Edna Is interesting. You could say her husband or Robert but, I find that society killed her. Another view I considered was money. Edna was a middle-class woman who had all of these conventions of society created from money breathing down her neck. If you’re a middle- or upper-class person you have to look act and talk a certain way. We see this questioned in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, Elsa a flower girl is changed into what Mr. Higgins considers a woman then, she goes to the embassy ball filled with people of high status and fits in perfectly. Money changes the way people look at anything just as Mr. Pontellier renovated his house only to protect his financial integrity since his wife had decided to leave the house.

The awakening Is an incredibly eye-opening book about women’s rights then and now. The story does a good job of lifting up characters rather than keeping them as only a protagonist or antagonist. This helped me see different views of each character and each character’s traits. The book also is a great representation that we should never put women in boxes that limits them to what they are able to achieve. I hope that we have moved on from this time and find it important to analyze this book.

 

The Awakening Personal Response

In the literary piece “The Awakening” by author Kate Chopin, we are introduced to enlightenment. When the reader first sees the title, we may believe it is referring to an individual becoming themselves. This although a good ideal, is far from the meaning behind the title. The title refers to one’s growth and understanding of their mistakes.
You see, Edna is a young woman who has lost herself over the years. She has allowed society and her needs to survive to drive her actions and words instead of doing what truly benefits her.

Throughout the story we are introduced to multiple characters who each carry their own burdens in life, whether it be giving up on themselves, losing track of their life, or simply living according to what their elders have instructed.

In the early chapters, we are introduced to a nocturnal beach setting, which one would naturally assume is calming, and a bit nerve-racking. What most do not notice is what the sea truly represents. You see, in the chapters surrounding this setting, there is a lot that Edna goes through about who she is and what she has truly accomplished in life, this also reflects in the sea, due to its broadness and unknown depths carrying beauty and creatures which haunt some. The sea characterises her true feelings and thoughts about herself.

My absolute favourite part of this entire novel, if you may call it that, is the sense of individualism which is reached near the end. Edna matures mentally to a state of independence and self-assertion. This is one of life’s mysteries which many do not accomplish until much later in life.

I really enjoyed this novel, but I would not encourage younger audiences to read it yet, since they are not in a mental space to properly understand the meaning of the novel.

Personal Response to The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin was a ground breaking work of fiction at the time, and heroine Edna Pontellier was a controversial character. She shattered a lot of nineteenth-century gender stereotypes and standards. Her rejection of her status as a mother and wife was one of her most surprising behavior. Kate Chopin eventually reveals her rejection, but motherhood is a key theme throughout the book.

Chopin gives Edna two foils to be focused on and compared to, Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz are what the men in Edna’s life compare her to and from whom they derive their hopes for her. Edna, on the other hand, sees all role models missing and realizes that the existence of independence and autonomy she desires is incompatible with society. Rather than idenifying herself independantly, she is identified by her role as Leonce Pontellier’s wife and mother of Raoul and Etienne Pontellier which cause her to struggle against the social and natural constructs of motherhood. The inevitability of her destiny as a male-defined being drives her to desperation, and she decides to end her life the only way she knows how.

Edna’s awareness of her natural role as a mother and woman, along with the social role she is supposed to play, causes her to commit suicide. “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them” (p. 131), Adele says to Edna before leaving the Ratignolle’s the night of the birth. Edna’s conscience is invaded by Adele’s appeal, which becomes the deciding factor in her decision to leave her new life behind. The idea of sharing her body with another person, of becoming genuinely a part of something other than her individual self, is fundamentally opposed to anything Edna has been seeking. Raoul and Etienne will be a persistent presence in her life, she realizes, and her innate position as a mother keeps her from living without them. After all, a woman’s primary responsibility is to raise her children to adulthood, and they, in essence, give meaning to her life. Edna refuses to spend the rest of her life as Raoul and Etienne’s mother, as well as Leonce’s wife.

She understands that doing so would mean sacrificing herself, which she vowed she would never do. “The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her soul’s slavery for the rest of her days” (p. 136). Edna refuses to be bound by its natural and social labels, and she commits suicide in order to save it from these constraints. Edna’s embrace of death is a regeneration in itself. Edna’s enlightening summer in Grand Isle has reached nine months, and her fetus-self is about to be delivered. “…and for the time she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her” (p. 136).

Edna accepts her rebirth as a way to relieve the burdens of adulthood. Edna pines for the innocence of children, who are blissfully unaware of the pressures of producing children and their fixed social positions. By encouraging herself to forget her life and immerse herself in death, Edna lets go of the concerns that nature and society put on a woman. Society were the two most powerful forces trying to shape Edna Pontellier into the woman they desired, but Edna is eventually able to break their grip by her suicide. Raoul and Etienne had power over her soul, reminding her endlessly of the torture of childbirth that nature demands of her. Leonce and society owned her soul, telling her to be submissive, to keep home, adore her children, and keep up appearances, but it was Raoul and Etienne who imprisoned her soul. Edna’s passion for identity and self-definition stopped her loving her children and announcing that she would give up nearly anything for them, but her desire for individuality and self-definition led her to her deathly rebirth.

Personal Response to The Awakening

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin invites the reader to question society’s conventionality, using her characterizations of Edna and her foils. From the start of the novel, Edna is never presented as someone who is happily married. She immediately appears disconnected from her husband and children, though she still cares for them. When talking with her friends, they “all declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs. Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better” (p. 8). This passage shows the sense of  indifference Edna has towards him. Then, Edna is described as, “not a mother woman” (p. 9), furthering our idea of her disconnection from her family. When examining Edna next to Mme. Ratignolle, we can see the clear contrast. Serving as one of Edna’s foils, Adèle is warm, feminine, and “delicious in the [mother-]role” (p. 9). She is someone who believes that, “a woman who would give her life for her children could do no more than that” (p. 56), contrasting to Edna, who says, “I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself” (p. 56). Chopin uses Mme. Ratignolle to depict the societally conventional woman: an excellent wife, loving mother, and devout catholic. She seems pleased with and admired for her conventional lifestyle, leading us to wonder if this is the best route.

Edna’s other foil, Mlle. Reisz, lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. She is an independent, single woman who lives separate from social expectations. For these reasons, she’s often characterized as unfeminine, such as the diction presenting her as “strikingly homely” (p. 73), with “strong wiry hands” (p. 73) and a “disagreeable” (p. 29) disposition. People don’t like Mlle. Reisz as much as they do Mme. Ratignolle. Due to her lack of conformity, she’s somewhat shunned from society, leading us to believe that traditionalism is not only the best option, but the only one. As the novel progresses, so does Edna’s radicalism. Her mind and body awaken, leaving her at odds with society’s expectations of her. Suddenly, we’re surrounded by questions about priorities: should we relinquish our radicalism to be embraced by society, or should we abandon society to stay true to ourselves? Can radicals and conventionalists exist harmoniously, or must they remain divided? Kate Chopin utilizes these contrasting characters to accentuate the differences between traditional and progressive, allowing us to explore how each side of the spectrum upholds our society.

Along with questions about conventionality, Chopin uses Edna’s romantic relationships to open discussions on the question, What is love?. From her marriage to her affair with Robert, Edna experiences love in several capacities. At the start of her relationship with her husband, Léonce, Edna realizes that she must give up all her dreams of romance, due to the fact that there is “no trace of passion” (p. 21) between the two of them. Edna grows to resent marriage and the restrictions that accompany it. Not only are we shown this indignation through Edna’s words, but also through Chopin’s symbolism. The beginning of the novel showcases an encaged bird, speaking “a language which nobody understood” (p. 1), representing Edna’s captivity in her conventional marriage. This idea is reiterated when Edna  awakens from her previously oppressed state, seeking independence rather than confinement. This is what I believe provokes her subsequent affairs: her desire to self-control, and relinquish herself from society’s hold. As she tells Robert, “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (p. 128). Due to this resistance to confinement, it may seem counterintuitive that Edna is falling in love with Robert as she experiences her feminist awakening. However, we soon realize that her love for Robert is completely unrelated to marriage and promise. Love, to answer the initial question,  is a disguise for what the characters truly want from life. Edna sees Robert as an escape from conventional life. He’s exciting and new, and she has no obligations to him. When Robert dreams about Edna, he dreams about marriage. But when Edna dreams about Robert, she dreams about self-governance and freedom. Edna has experienced marriage, and it did not equate to love. She “grew fond” (p. 21) of Léonce, but marriage is a failed experiment in Edna’s mind. Therefore, when Robert tells Edna about his “wild dream of [Edna] becoming [his] wife” (p. 127), she is put off. Chopin has written Robert as a conventional character—one that almost resembles a younger Mr. Pontellier. By doing so, Chopin is accentuating Edna’s ideas about love and marriage. To Edna, those two words are not synonymous. Marriage is a prison that detains, oppresses, and suffocates her. Contrarily, love is an escape; a reflection of Edna’s liberation, a release from conventional society. Does this—the desire to break free—make Edna selfish?

Rather than selfish, I argue that Edna is exploring her identity, self-ownership, and place in society. The word “selfish” has a negative connotation, portraying her as a villain for being unhappy and curious. Through her awakening, Edna becomes more in touch with her mind and her body. She begins to make her own decisions, rather than complying to the subservience that society and her husband ask of her. For instance, when Edna chooses to stay outside one night, Mr. Pontellier orders her to come inside. But instead of “submitt[ing] to his command” (p. 36), Edna doesn’t yield, and asserts herself by saying, “Don’t speak to me like that again” (p. 37). From then on, she decides where she goes and what she does, giving herself where she chooses. Personally, I appreciate this self-exploration. Through several means, Edna is getting in touch with her radicalism, and is fighting against the patriarchal, conventional society. Nevertheless, she has made commitments to her husband and children, which complicates the scenario. Edna’s foil, Mlle. Reisz is able to live an independent, radical lifestyle, because she never makes any commitments to other people. Ultimately, this commitment is what restricts Edna. She cannot continue living as a mother and a wife, but she also cannot live independently without causing scandal. Once again, we see this depicted by bird symbolism: her marriage is compared to a birdcage, and her independent home is referred to as a “pigeon house” (p. 101). She is left with no good options; trapped in between the radical and the conventional—the birdcage and the pigeon house. Once she is exposed to the ideas of self-ownership and independence, how is she expected to return to oppressive mundanity?

I was immensely moved by this novel. Not only does it examine a woman’s role in society, but also her obligations to herself. Edna lives in a society where conventionality is prioritized over self-ownership. Women didn’t have the option to control themselves, making Edna’s resistance to societal norms so radical. Edna doesn’t want the conventional life that has been placed onto her, and instead desires freedom to do as she pleases. Her fight against conventional entrapment correlates with her awakening, leading me conclude that radicalism originates from awareness of yourself and the world around you. Throughout my education on societal standards and the oppressive systems that dominate society, my own radical values have increased. In many ways, my education has “awakened” me, like Edna awakened through her emotional experiences. This novel has allowed me to question my values in relation to conventionality; how I want to conduct my lifestyle and continuously progress.

Personal Response to The Awakening

The book The Awakening by Kate Chopin to me was an interesting story to read. When first reading this story, I thought it was going to be another one of those boring “love story’s” but after finishing the story it got me intrigued and asking many questions which left me in confusion trying to answer them.
One of the biggest questions that came to mind is “Was it necessary for Edna to kill herself?” This all started when Edna fell in love with Robert while still being married to Léonce and she couldn’t control herself. This love with Robert, being married to Léonce, and having an affair with Arobin was slowly killing her and giving her that bad reputation. Then once Robert came back from Mexico and visited Nora, she had to leave due to Adèle in labor. Once Edna returned home Robert had left leaving a note saying “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) then the next day Edna took a train to her summer home, went into the ocean, and drowned herself.
Answering this question can be tough since there are two sides to it. One side is she was being selfish and a child with her kids will not be able to grow up with a mother around. But looking at it from another viewpoint, you notice she was only trying to protect her reputation for her kids when they grow up. You first see this when Adèle whispers to Edna after labor “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” (pg. 131) and before Edna drowns, she thought of Léonce and the children being part of her life which both refer to her thinking of her kid and how she’d want them to think of her.
Another big question that is raised by this book is about society. “Does society have unwritten rules or standards we need to follow?” Everyone has said to have a free choice of will and not to be afraid to do anything. Yet society can be very judgemental of things we do in our lives so people must do/not do certain things to stay normal and not to be looked at differently. This comes up in the book when Edna is having an affair and being in love with Robert. When Edna drowns, this brings up the question that if Edna stayed alive, would she have broken that unwritten rule and be frowned upon by society for being with different men? The pressure of society has been the cause for many deaths since everyone must not break those “unwritten rules” to live a normal life and to be accepted as a human.
The last big question from this book is “Was it worth it for Robert to leave?” there are many different perspectives on why Robert left Edna with the note “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) some have said he left because he didn’t want to be with Edna. I believe he left to try and save Edna from herself and stay loyal to her husband. When he said in the letter “Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) It sounds like he only wanted the best for her and she could save herself.

The Awakening: Personal Response

The Awakening written by Kate Chopin is a fascinating novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I thought that it carried deep and emotional subjects. In The Awakening Edna a mother of two is founded in a loveless marriage. She escapes her reality in finding a romantic interest towards Robert. Robert takes off, and she is alone rediscovering herself. Throughout the novel we see her having multiple different “awakenings” from sexual to emotional. I will be analyzing Edna’s final decision, and if this was the right choice for her.

Symbolisme is a huge factor in the novel. It helps define Edna awakening and emotional suffering. One of the two most notable symbols in the novel is the sea. To Edna, the sea (or the idea of the sea) represents freedom. It is her getaway. The sea is there in the beginning of the novel before her awakening. Often represented as “…seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring…”(p.15). It is this seductive, secretive sea that ended Edna’s struggle. The sea often foreshadows what was yet to happen; “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”(p.15) It is as if the narrator themselves saw the sea as an escape from society, like a soft and grand bed to sleep on after a hard day’s work. Throughout the novel, we see Edna’s strong connection with the sea improve. We notice this with Edna’s experience learning how to swim. Edna randomly feels empowered to swim, though she struggled with it for most of summer. “A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (p.32). This was the first time where Edna feels like she is in control and she gets so excited and entranced with her new power, she doesn’t realize how far she has swam. Getting scared, she swims back. In the later chapter of the novel (where Edna finally decides to end her own life) she isn’t scared. She is calm, thinking of the summer and her childhood. She no longer cares for what society thinks of her and this is what makes her not go back to the shore. She has gone too far, where she can’t go back. Even if Edna decided to live her mundane life, she simply wouldn’t. She now knows what it is like to be free and to feel awake where she’d rather die than live her life. This gives Edna power for this is the only thing that she can control in her life. 

Throughout the novel, we, readers, often question Edna’s relationship with her children. For the first part of the novel, she is seen as distant and far from her children. She doesn’t really care where they are nor what they are doing. “If one of the little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at play, he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eyes and sand out of his mouth, and go on playing” (pp.8-9). When she gets more involved with her personal awakening, we start to see her have more appreciation for her children, but only when they are with her. “How glad she was to see the children! She wept for very pleasure when she felt their little arms clasping her, their heard ruby cheeks pressed against her own glowing cheeks”(p.111). We never see her think about her children alone until the end of the novel deciding her own death. So is Edna a good mother? When being compared to one of her foil, Mme. Adele, it is easy to consider that Edna wasn’t a very loving mother. However, Edna is a caring mother for what she can do in her situation. It isn’t her fault that she is stuck in this society where her only value is to give birth. She didn’t ask to be here, to marry nor to have children. She still loves her children but only because they are her offspring. She doesn’t love them for who they are, simply because she doesn’t know who they are and they are too young to have a defining personality. She is busy holding up womanly values (which she doesn’t believe in) to be a mother for her children, such as staying home on Tuesdays. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to live life to societal conventions. She’d rather die and give her soul to the sea then create a scandal for her children in suicidal aftermath which would forever ruin their reputation and opportunities. So she does 7have consideration for her children. 

Was it the right decision for Edna to end her own life? Personally, I will never conclude that killing oneself is the best option when dealing with difficult times. However, in this context, a literary source; in understanding Edna’s consternations, character and situation, I believe that she made the best decision for herself. She is freeing herself and saving her children from a life of scandal. I also believe that Edna didn’t think she belonged in this world where her roles were very limited. When being compared to her two foils, she simply doesn’t fit in. She isn’t the motherly type nor the independent woman type. The decisions she made in her past has left her now feeling helpless, unable to escape an unloving marriage without causing scandal for her children. Societal pressures obviously lay very heavy on her. I believe that Edna also feels that even if she did come to love someone else, she would still not want to oblige to the “ideal” marriage they would likely want. 

While reading the story of Edna and her ends, I feel a sense of wanting to cry but not having enough tears to do so. To think about how many women often felt trapped in a society that controlled every aspect of their lives. This idea and concept of women is still present in today’s society, from beauty standards to sexual harassment and child marriages. A lot of women around the world constantly feel pressured and harassed to fit the role of “the perfect woman.” I, personally, sometimes don’t even know whether my own opinions are my own, or if they have been formed through thousands of years of social conditioning to undermine women. I hope that one day all women will feel valued in the society that they live in.

WDolan The Awakening Personal Response

In Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”, the reader learns the story of a woman named Edna, who grappled with the ideas of being a wife living a traditional life, being self-reliant, and free-willed individual. Edna represents the idea of teleology. She has reasons for why she has many affairs, but does not necessarily know about the causes in which they arise. However, seeing how this is frowned upon in the story, it seems society follows more consequentialist principles.

In the beginning of the story, I had the impression that Edna was selfish. It seemed she wanted whatever she liked and was not considerate of other people’s feelings. On page 136 she says: “To-day it is Arobin: to-morrow it will be someone else”. This may seem selfish, but when an individual is unhappy, their feelings are valid. However, they are not always right. Was Edna justified to end her life and leave her children? Was it better for them to not have a scandal caused by Edna inflicted on them? Her final thoughts are about people she cares about. She thinks of Robert, (“There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert…” pg 136), and her children. Despite this, it does seem she realizes all the positivity within her life has been stripped away from her, once she was abandoned by her family. Did she really love the ones she was surrounded by? Or were they obstacles and preventing her from having other affairs?

I think it is important to debate Edna’s appreciation of her partner. I am not sure I would refer to them as family since they aren’t married and she has many affairs. On page 81, Madame Pontellier suggests that Edna may be more united if Robert stayed around longer. However, Edna responds with “Oh! Dear no! What should I do if he stayed home? We wouldn’t have anything to say to each other”. Did she respond this way fearing that if Robert stayed home, it would interfere with her freedoms? If this is the case, I would find her response reasonable since women were not given much freedom during this time frame. Her marriage appears to be a type of imprisonment for her. Therefore the only ending available to Edna is death. This relates to an earlier topic discussed about paradise and death. Edna would love to have everything she desires and have other individuals behave the way she deems appropriate. However, if she were to receive all this, her life may have become a mini paradise, and she would still not be satisfied, because she cannot alter the perfect nature of her life. This creates a kind of death within her life, which may have lead to the same ending of the story, where Edna takes her own life.

In summary, the book has many symbols, amd metaphors throughout, adding to its complexity. The book appeals to one gender over the other, because, in my opinion, the romantic scenes were too graphic. It provides excellent insight into what the earlier developments of feminism looked like, and how the story shaped the future. I learned about other people’s perspective on the meaning of life, and what makes their lives important.

The Awakening: Personal Response

For me the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin was exhausting and boring to read. I likewise think Edna is exceptionally childish and selfish. That’s what I thought at first, however as I read and began understanding her intentions, I have an alternate idea on the book. She is trying to find herself, it is about self-revelation and recognition. Although some of her actions still show selfishness and narrow mindedness, I understand her motives behind everything. 

In the context of the 19th century, women’s first priority should be to take care of their children. On the other hand, Edna is described as not a “mother”. When exchanging views on the mother’s debt to the child, Edna declared that her personality is more important than her mother. I will pay my money, I will give my life for my children, but I will not give myself” (page 57). Edna’s adolescence prompted her to fight for self-discovery, which resulted in She neglected responsibilities such as childbirth. Edna is not a conscientious mother. I can’t accept this ending. Although some people say that her children can be taken care of by their grandma and Léonce, if I am the child, I would rather see my parents divorce, to be more accurate ‘not in love anymore’ rather than hearing about my mother’s death. Edna loves her children and she still cares about them. “She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (p. 21).

Approaching the end of the novel, Edna shares her final thought about Robert before she commits suicide, “he did not know; he did not understand. He would never understand” (p. 116). Instead of contemplating how she would break her dearest companion’s heart with her final act, she only reflects on how he had never understood her. Edna deserts everyone who had cared for her and who she had relied upon, without much consideration. 

Edna’s actions can be justified with the social standards today. However, She did them all in aiming to fill the void in her miserable life, where she had no control over anything without the approval of a man. Edna sees more to her life, potentials and dreams, although she never had the chance to proceed as she could not handle the consequences it came with. As a mother and as a lover, Edna is selfish. As an individual, her choice of putting herself first in any circumstances and to control her own destiny, makes her almost admirable.

 

Personal Response to The Awakening

I cannot discuss whether or not Edna’s choice to suicide was “right” or “wrong.” It isn’t the right choice to make, but it is her only choice.

As her reputation will likely be ruined, she kills herself to protect her children. “It makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Léonce Pontellier—but Raoul and Etienne!” (p. 136). To me, it feels like her children’s presence drove Edna to death.

“The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days.” (p. 136)

Her children are her “burdens”. If Edna did not have Raoul and Etienne, she can continue her acts of infidelity even if she ruins her reputation. But because Edna gives birth to her children when she is not prepared to be a mother, raising them is “a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and which Fate had not fitted her” (p. 21). Being a “good mother” like Madame Ratignolle means it is her priority to take care of her children at all times. That is why Edna is particularly “selfish” in a way that she wouldn’t “sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone” (p. 56). Especially after her “awakening,” she realizes that becoming a “perfect mother” requires her to sacrifice too much of her individuality and soul. In order to preserve her soul, she gives her life.

But if Edna didn’t need to worry about her children and runs away with Robert, she wouldn’t be happy either. She knows that her love towards Robert will not last long. Although “there was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert,” she knows that “the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” (p. 136) At this point, Edna is already beyond her younger years of having romantic fantasies. Although she loves Robert, he doesn’t understand her in a way that he, like Léonce Pontellier, doesn’t understand what she means when she says “I give myself where I choose.” (p. 128)

But society, or more specifically, the middle-class society that Edna lives in, will not allow a married woman like her to “give where she choose.” The Pontelliers, like all other middle-class families, need to “observe les convenances” to “keep up with the procession” (p. 60). But the middle-class life is very decent ; Edna’s house is very “charming” (p. 58) and they had servants and cooks. However, she is bound to her home, her family, and the middle-class society.

Disliking the social norms doesn’t justify her infidelity. There is more to why Edna falls in love with Robert and associates with Alcée. At “the beginning of things,” where the world is “necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing” (p. 15), “middle class morality” didn’t exist. But because many people are stuck inside this middle-class life forever, they never “wake up,” and their souls “perish in its tumult” (p. 15). Edna discovered herself at the sea, where life first emerged. The water possesses all the treasures to life. She sees a world without “middle-class morality.” As Kate Chopin writes, and repeats:

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.” (p. 15, 136)

Despite suicide being Edna’s only choice, there is something incredibly sad about the death of a “new-born creature,” a beautiful creature that just began to live. Because she possesses a “ponderous weight of wisdom” that even the “Holy Ghost” is unwilling to “vouchsafe” to a “woman” (p. 15), of course her society wouldn’t tolerate such things.

The Awakening: Personal Response

While discussing the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin with a few of my friends, I got many responses on how the book was boring and repetitive. I asked them what they thought about Edna’s character, and the only responses I received were that she is selfish. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. There is much more to the book than just a woman leaving her husband because she is in love with someone else. It is about a woman trying to find herself; it is about self-discovery and recognition. I do not see why Edna is selfish just because she is trying to be happy with herself.

Edna is not a mother-woman and has been classified as selfish because she chooses to do other things rather than look after her children. I solely oppose the point that she is selfish because she does not look after her kids like other mothers do. “She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (p. 21). Edna loved her children; the book only mentions the events over a year or two; it does not mention anything before that. We are not aware of how she treated her children before that; maybe she would have taken care of them all the time over the last few years. Edna was supposed to help Léonce with his business; she cannot possibly be present with her kids 24/7; she needs some time to herself, which does not make her selfish. Besides, Etienne and Raoul never complained of her absence; the kids were young and enjoying themselves.

Even though the book suggests that Léonce fell in love with Edna    (p. 21), it is evident that this was not the case. “Then her absolute disregard for her duties as a wife angered him” (p. 67).  It seems as if Edna was stuck in a box and was desperately trying to get out of it and be free. According to societal standards, Mr. Pontellier is the perfect husband, but he is courteous towards Edna only when she is submissive. There is a difference between her being selfish and her being confused. Now that Edna decides to do as she pleases, it is damaging to his business; Léonce lashes out and becomes angry and rude. She did not stick to her duties because she was trying to enrage Léonce, but she wanted to find her true identity. Everyone needs to know who they are. I do not see any evidence that suggests Léonce loved her, and he treats her like an employee rather than his wife.  “He was simply thinking of his financial integrity” (p. 110). Mr. Pontellier shows no affection towards Edna; he is inconsiderate and egoistic unless it regards his business.

I do not think Edna ever loved Mr. Pontellier, and so she sought love from Robert. “She could hear again the ripple of water, the flapping sail” (p. 68). Every time Edna thinks of Robert, the author changes the structure of words and makes it romantic, sensual, and calming. Thinking about him gives her a sense of freedom. She had romantic feelings for Robert, but these were never present with Léonce or Arobin. This is because Robert is everything she wants in a person, unlike Léonce and Arobin, who are self-centred. I hear many people saying that Edna cheated on Robert because she kissed Arobin. “It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded” (p. 98). This is not true because even though she had deep feelings for Robert, they were never in a committed relationship; they didn’t have to be faithful to each other. Although this does prove that she cheated on Léonce, she was not in love with him.

Edna never considered not having children because it was never an option when she got married. She wanted to have children, but she also needed time to herself. Even though Edna had to die in the end, I enjoyed the ending as well. Her suicide was not because she couldn’t handle her emotions anymore and wanted to be free from them, but because no matter how hard or for how long she fought against the ridiculous societal conventions, she would still be looked down upon and would have never gotten to be with Robert. Her love for Robert still did not change the fact that she did not want to get married or have children again; she wanted an affair. If Edna waited a while more to die, the ending would be a mess. Instead of the lovely person she was, everyone would view her as a cheater or a demented and unpleasant woman, similar to how people view Mademoiselle Reisz. Her death leaves all the characters in suspense as to why she chose to do it. The sudden ending makes it clear that no one would understand how she felt. I think the main focus of this is that Edna was not trying to achieve freedom by finding herself; she was simply trying to feel happy during the process of achieving something, and society would not allow that.