17 September 2010
Awakening to Self-Realization
It is human nature to question our existence. Scholars and historians spend entire lifetimes discussing the realms of possibilities. Many people believe that mankind searches for the answer to life out of arrogance or just self-pity. Mrs. Pontellier, the protagonist in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, is textual evidence of a woman who becomes self-realized through an overcoming awakening. Her awakening helps her to perceive the world through her own eyes, to overcome the binding obstacles of society, and to discover what she believes is the reason for her existence.
Mrs. Pontellier’s awakening helps her to open her eyes and perceive the world as it is. We are told in the novella, as Mrs. Pontellier is on Grand Isle and debating on whether to go to the beach with Robert or not, about an event that bewilders her beyond recognition: A certain light [is] beginning to dawn dimly within [Mrs. Pontellier]—the light which, showing the way, forbids it. In short, Mrs. Pontellier [is] 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. (17) This is one of the several incidences in the novella that Mrs. Pontellier realizes that she is changing and is beginning to perceive the world differently than the other women in society. As Mrs. Pontellier is changing, she realizes throughout the novella that her changing is on her own account and not meant to hurt the people she is around. Thus, Mrs. Pontellier’s perception is beginning to come into focus and is helping her change into the women she believes she should be.
Mrs. Pontellier’s perception of the world is also a necessary tool that she uses to overcome the obstacles of society. Chopin describes throughout the novella about how Mrs. Pontellier can’t get past Robert: “The sentiment which she [entertains] for Robert in no way [resembles] that which she [feels] for...
Cited: Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Random House, 2003.
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