The Awakening Study Guide

The Awakening Study Guide

Original title:
The Awakening
2006 by Elibron Classics (first published 1899)
New Orleans, Louisiana (United States) Grand Isle, Louisiana (United States)
ISBN 0543898083 (ISBN13: 9780543898081)

“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin is an American novel that focuses on the confrontation of developing women’s views and outdated society attitudes towards it. The fact that even today in some communities the book still provokes confrontation means that the feminism still has a long way to go. 

The protagonist of the story is Edna Pontellier. And while her husband thought too much about children, Edna cared too little about them. A perfect match, you would say? But the society threw stones into both of them for not fitting into the accepted norms and standards. 

Edna spends her whole life according to the existing norms: caring for her husband, cleaning the household, bringing up children, and hosting guests. She is tired of the vicious cycle. All of the sudden she decides to do as she likes for once in her life. Neither her or people around her are allowed to do so and it’s going to be something new and dangerous for the heroine. But she accepts the risk. That’s all for the plot. 

But written in a world where no feminist thought made it to publishing yet, the novel was quickly proclaimed scandalous. Needless to say that at first the book was widely criticized and the author was stamped to be immoral and indignant rather then courageous and brave. But once the society got past it, readers started noticing great wording, lively characters, and unique language. 

The style of the story is a masterpiece on its own. The author managed to remain close to reality and at the same time going into deep psychological analysis, as well as inserting comments regarding the social situations of the time. The trick to appreciating the novel is not to judge the moral traits of the characters but enjoy it in the whole. 

Event those who aren’t very much interested in feminism works should give “The Awakening” their attention. It shows the origins of the movement for female rights and the conditions and backdrop against which it was developing. It laid the ground for such great American writers as Faulkner, Hemingway and James who took the stage a bit later. 

New Essays

The Awakening

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...

The Awakening: Scene Analysis

„Edna had found her old bathing suit still hanging, faded, upon its accustomed peg. She put it on, leaving her clothing in the bath-house. But when she was there beside the sea, absolutely alone, she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first time in her life she stood...

The Awakening- Edna's Suicide- Failure or Success?

The Impasse- Edna's suicide- failure or success? T the end of Kate Chopin's novel ? The Awakening" the protagonist Edna commits suicide. The remaining question for the reader is: Does Edna's suicide show that she succeeded or failed in her struggle for independence? Edna's new life in independency...

Edna Pontellier in the Awakening

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Emory University historian and women's studies scholar was once interviewed on a documentary about Kate Chopin, the author of The Awakening (Fox, 2007, p. 27). She described Chopin as, "? a woman who took women extremely seriously. She never doubted women's ability to be...

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