Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

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“The Awakening” is a novel written in 1899 by Kate Chopin (1850-1904). “The Awakening” is a novel of life in the south and opens in the late 1800’s in Grand Isle near New Orleans. “The Awakening” can be viewed by three different perspectives; psychoanalytical, historical, and feminist. The historical perspective focuses on the setting of the story; the year and the major events of that time period. For the historical perspective “The Awakening” is set in the Victorian times of the south when Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. The British people had a long prosperity during her reign (ukanswers.com). The feministic perspective focuses on gender and the beliefs of society during that time. The psychoanalytical perspective focuses on the characters and how they actually feel and their dreams, hope, and desires. There is a strong feministic perspective of identity in the story “The Awakening.” One main character, Edna Pontellier, is dealing with her own identity of a woman, wife, and mother. Edna was a young woman in Victorian times who is lacking the ability to fulfill the domestic duties of a wife and mother because of the loss of her own identity. She was a woman surrounded by a society in which she does not fit in; a society of Creoles. Although Edna was married to a Creole she was never at home at Grand Isle as she was never so immersed with them before. (Chopin, 1899, chap 4, para 11, lines 1-2). Edna was a young wife with little concern for her husband and her marriage. Edna did not conform to the envisioned role of a wife. “He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him, and valued so little his conversation.” (Chopin, 1899, chap 2, para 3). Edna did not marry her husband out of love; at least not for love on her side. Edna did not have the typical marriage of a woman in her era, especially at Grand Isles. ”Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate.” (Chopin, 1899, chap 7, para 27). Edna was not your typical wife of Grand Isle. Edna later learned how she thought of Leonce was not as it seemed previously. Seeking out being a wife was not what Edna had intended. ” It was in the midst of her secret great passion that she met him.” “She fancied there was a sympathy of thought and taste between them, in which fancy she was mistaken. (Chopin, 1899, chap 7, para 27). Edna was never a woman without completeness in her life. Even during Edna’s younger life, she was not whole; she did not feel full. “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. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life--that outward existence, which conforms, the inward life which questions.” (Chopin, 1899, chap 7, para 1). Edna’s marriage to Leonce was not one of total commitment; not for Edna. Edna was not the warm, enamored wife which she was expected to be. “The acme of bliss, which would have been a marriage with the tragedian, was not for her in this world. As the devoted wife of a man who worshiped her.” (Chopin, 1899, chap 7, para 28). When Leonce is away in New Orleans he sends Edna a package, which he often does, filled with bon bons, fruit, and other treats. Edna shares with the package of delicacies with the other ladies of Grand Isle. (Chopin, 1899, chap 3, para 18 lines 1-2; para 19 lines 2-3). Edna has little respect for her husband as a man and provider; Edna does not carry herself as a devoted wife that the society in which she lives “all declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs. Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better.” (Chopin, 1899, chap 3, para 19). Edna’s identity as a mother was absent; she did not have the...
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