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Reflection on “The Awakening Novel” by Kate Chopin Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2020

This essay reflects on the Awakening Novel by Kate Chopin from pages 535 to 625. To begin with, the treatise discusses Edna’s male relative. Besides, Mademoiselle Reisz opinion on what an artist need is applauded. Moreover, common themes, imagery, metaphors, and self actualization are presented as literary styles used by the author. In addition, this composition explores Edna’s love life and the general influence this piece of literature has on artistic impression.

Edna’s male relatives

Among Edna’s male relatives is Leonce Pontellier, who is her husband. He is described as a fond husband and a stern patriarch (Chopin, 537). He is confused at Edna’s continuous emancipation desire. Edna wonders, “How many years have I slept?” in reference to their platonic relationship (Chopin, 620).

Colonel is the father and a retired officer. Alcee refers to Edna as “the daughter he invented” (Chopin, 560). Colonel is an austere Protestant who loves displaying authority. Despite this, he gets along with his daughter. Raoul Pontellier and Etienne are Edna’s two sons. Little is known about them apart from their age being four and five years respectively.

What two things does an artist need according to Mademoiselle Reisz?

According to Mademoiselle Reisz, a renowned pianist, she advises Edna on the need to have passion in persuading her talent. She plays piano with deep emotion only understood by Edna. Besides, Madermoiselle Reisz asserts, “The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies” (Chopin, 604).

Upon reflection on these words, Edna feels like “some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known” (Chopin, 611). After undergoing a multiple of experiences, Edna resonates that “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of” (Chopin, 618).

Common theme in terms of Edna’s feelings for the men she’s loved

The theme of unrestrained morals in Edna’s love life comes out clearly in the novel. On her artistic freedom path, Edna is not conscious of her emotions. She seems lost in a spiritual sea with her husband being the victim of her “inward agony” (Chopin, 580).

In the contemporary society, it is almost unimaginable for a married woman to posses unsatisfying emancipation at the expense of her family. She believes that Léonce would one day turn up and “set her free” (Chopin, 598). Edna is weak in her emotions and dates more than three men within a short period.

She posses a dynamic emotional character, very rare during this period in the history. This protagonist is complex and unpredictable in her love life. Interestingly, the courage and strength to act on her sexual desires enables her to cut an independent identity. Her fantasies remain latent and hidden in the passion she had for Lebrun. “It is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life” (Chopin, 620).

The metaphor of the ocean and the imagery of birds

The Ocean is an awakening symbol of freedom and escape. She must brave this wide horizon on the quest towards discovery. In water, she replicates on the complexity of the world in relation to her situation.

Also, the ocean water symbolizes rebirth, awakening call to Edna on her inner strength, horror of lonely independence, and glory. Edna is a woman who “rules, who looks on, who stands alone” (Chopin, 540). In the novel, caged birds symbolizes snare Edna and other Victorian females are trapped in.

The mockingbird and parrot represent Madame Reisz and Edna, correspondingly. As the birds, society has limited their actions. Robert claims, “Mrs. Pontellier, you are cruel” when Edna expresses her opinion (Chopin, 569). As a matter of fact, the birds capable of soaring above tradition must be strong-winged. Unfortunately, Edna ends up exhausted, bruised, and fluttered back in a suicidal death.

Edna as a child

Edna Pontellier and her family spend their summer in the Isle resort belonging to the father of Robert Lebrun. Edna falls for Lebrun and this relationship becomes the fundamental conflict across the novel.

Lebrun escapes to Mexico and leaves Edna dejected resulting into a premature complications leading Edna to commit suicide. Alcee Arobin comes to Edna’s rescue when Lebrun retreats to Mexico. Though ambivalent at first, Edna eventually opens up to Alcee who happens to be a womanizer with limits to her. Edna becomes “supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties” (Chopin, 590).

Edna accepts this relationship as a buffer for the heartbreak from Lebrun. The rich Leonce is Edna’s husband. Edna seems to survive in the relationship because of the society and her two sons “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children!” (Chopin, 613) is all Adeole could whisper to Edna (Chopin, 613). These men contributed to Edna’s emotional imbalance and she ends up committing suicide.

Critical Essay

Written over a century ago, this novel presents a practical and typical setting of a family in a conservative society. It explores women role in the family institution, their struggle to live within their peers and husband expectations. The prose narrative style of the novel offers a hesitant and nuanced outlook of how the society treats women. The novel is written in simple English with heavy influence of Creole French. The lifestyle of Edna is an irony.

Though privileged and wealthy, she feels like one of the numerous assets her husband has acquired. The husband is insensitive of her needs and only responds to some of them as status demands. Edna is depicted as a strong woman in a platonic relationship. Against her will, the society has trapped her in a boring homecare management between her paintings and she becomes “flaming, outspoken revolt against the ways of Nature” (Chopin, 589).

At the end, a reckless and capricious lifestyle overcomes her, inciting her feminist vilification of strange behavior. The novel, thus, is effective in presenting silent suffering in the face of privilege and class stratification. The numerous literary styles properly applied in this novel have made it an outstanding piece of literature. Instead of Edna letting the world “to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days”, she resorts to suicide (Chopin, 625).

Madame Ratignolle

Madame Ratignole is represented as an ideal woman in her charm and epitomized elegance as required of Creole women. She is chaste and often behaves as the moment demands. This relationship actualizes Edna’s “awakening” desires. The author narrates of a difficult child birth which reunites Edna and Ratignole. Surprisingly, Edna walks out of Roberts arms into Ratignole’s world.

Being a sensible woman, she notes Edna’s emotional distance and promptly advice her to live within the preset socialite behavioral expectation of a woman and think about her children. In this episode, the author presents Ratignole as the voice of conservative reasoning overshadowed by genuine concern for family affairs. She affirms, “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children!” (Chopin, 613)

Work Cited

Kate, Chopin. The Awakening: Easyread Edition. ReadHowYouWant.com, 2007.Print.

Nina B, Arnold K, and Jeanne C. The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Volume C: 1865-1914. 7th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2007pp 535 –625. Print.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Awakening.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002.

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