The Awakening

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Kate Chopin’s book The Awakening is based on the expections placed on women in society, particularly in the upper class at the turn of the 20th century. This story explains how there is more than one reason why effects on a human or thing happen. Edna Pontellier’s character shows not only the limited options of a woman, but the dangers of taking risks of unrealistic expectations of life and love. Chopin is trying to show how change can break a human.

The intent of Kate Chopin’s story was to show the limited options of a woman. Mrs. Pontellier was one who broke all the expected roles of an upper class woman. Mrs. Pontellier became extremely bored with her lifestyle and her husband. Her husband was never around, nor did he appear to be concerned with anything unless Edna’s actions would affect him (or his reputation). The text says of Leonce, “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.” (6)

Mrs. Pontellier also had limited options because of her disliking of her own children. She chooses to marry Leonce, knowing that entails at the time – wife and motherhood. The narrator tells, “Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman.” (10) She first begins to neglect her children with small insolence of the life she has chosen; sleeping on the hammock, blowing off her Tuesday calls. However she becomes more defiant until she is thoughtless doing whatever she feels like, with no thought either to her husband, her children, or anyone else.

The zeitgeist of this story shows how Edna is always taking risks, which in the end never become truly satisfied. One of these risks is Robert. Edna spends all her spare time with Robert, and when she is with Robert, she symbolically removes her wedding rings. Edna lives in a dream world of courtly romance. When she hears about Robert’s trip to Mexico, “she recognized anew the...
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