Chopin: External Narration
Module: EH4001 Critical Practice 1
Lecturer: Dr David Coughlan
Tutor: Dr Jason King
Date: 02 November 2009
Giving examples from Chopin’s The Awakening, explain what you understand by internal and external narration, restricted and unrestricted narration, and focalisation. How does the narrative point of view in The Awakening contribute to its theme of “an awakening”?
Chopin’s “The Awakening” is told in third person, the narrator uses both internal and external narration. The narrator describes the actions and appearances of the characters within the story--this is known as external narration “when she enters the parlor, Robert is nowhere to be found. He has left a note”.(148) This contrasts with internal narration which allows us to hear the characters thoughts and feelings “She writhed with a jealous pang.” (136) Chopin uses omniscient narration meaning the narrator has unrestricted knowledge. This allows us to gain a greater understanding of the story’s characters for example we learn that Edna is not happily married to Mr Pontellier. Chopin uses the point of view of a third person narrator focalising through Edna Pontellier this narration contributes best to the theme of an ‘awakening’. The narrator allows us to see what Edna sees and feel the emotion that she feels, we follow her as she ‘awakens’ to the many daunting realities in her life as she struggles to find personal independence and freedom. All of these narrative traits hold a great deal of importance and are used to create tone and atmosphere within the short story as well as adding depth to the characters. Chopin makes great use of both internal and external narration in this short story. External narration is used to give us a clear picture of both the characters and scenery within the story.
“Mr Pontellier wore eye- glasses. He was a man of forty, medium height and rather slender build; he stooped a little. His hair was brown and straight,