The Awakening Novel Quotes
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is a story of self-discovery, the tale of a woman who breaks free from the norm and takes a dip in the untested waters of hush-hush during the nineteenth century. Edna Pontellier is a Creole woman living in New Orleans during the late 1800’s. Although she is married, she begins an intimate courtship with a man named Robert Lebrun. What seems harmless at first quickly accelerates into a journey or freedom and self-discovery for Edna. The days they spend bathing in the sea and lounging in the sand cause the woman to reminisce and pine for the days of her youth. She lets her pent up independence tumble out from the hidden shelves of her being, waves of freedom tumbling over her anxious body. Throughout the plot of the book, Edna deals with the growing social eye cast upon her and with the frequent and final departure of her lover – Robert. With this, Edna throws her broken-hearted body into the ocean, leaving her husband and children in a cowardly way out.
Quote #1: "The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace." (pg. 17)
In the book, Edna faces three ‘awakenings’. All of which begin, and the last ends, with the sea. The sea seems to ‘baptize’ her first awakening, in which she leaves her husband and children. The second heightens her awareness as she swims and lounges on the beach with Robert during their affair. The last awakening is when she realizes she cannot hold onto her desires, and ends her life by the sea. As a reader, this passage made me alert to the upcoming events, as well as the events that had already passed. It shed light on the series of three, which all tied back to the ocean. These events also made me draw similar comparisons to the scaffold scenes in The Scarlett Letter. Like that book, Edna is involved in adultery. In a similar way, Dimmesdale kills himself like Edna due to guilt. Edna realizes that she has failed as a ‘mother’ and is heartbroken at the letter Robert has left for her when she returns back to New Orleans. Quote #2: "Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate. It was in the midst of her secret great passion that she met him. He fell in love, as men are in the habit of doing, and pressed his suit with an earnestness and ardor which left nothing to be desired." (pg. 23-24) This quote is a summary of Leonce and Edna’s relationship. She doesn’t really love him, nor does she really believe that she ever did. She loves him for the reason that he is the father of her children, but not for much else. Later in the book, it even seems believable that she doesn’t care for her children either. However, it could be that she left her children to spare them from the hurt she would bring if she were to stay and be their ‘mother’. As a reader, this quote helped shed light on the relationship – or rather, lack of – between Edna and her husband. It makes it understandable for her to have an affair, but then again I found this shocking because she has children. Even if she wasn’t in love with her husband, and divorce was definitely not an option during the 1800’s – she should have stayed for her children. In the end, love for Robert or for her children, wasn’t even enough to keep her from diving into the ocean. Quote #3: “But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its power and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over confidence. She could have shouted with joy” (23). Although this quote comes at the beginning of the novel, it could have floated throughout the book. It describes the night Edna...
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