The Awakening
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The Awakening
by Kate Chopin


First published in 1899, this beautiful, brief novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward. Now widely read and admired, The Awakening has been hailed as an early vision of woman¡¯s emancipation. This sensuous book tells of a woman¡¯s abandonment of her family, her seduction, and her awakening to desires and passions that threaten to consume her.

Originally entitled A Solitary Soul, this portrait of twenty-eight-year-old Edna Pontellier is a landmark in American fiction, rooted firmly in the Romantic tradition of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson. Here a woman engaged in self-discovery turns away from convention and society and toward the primal, irresistibly attracted to nature and the senses. The Awakening, Kate Chopin¡¯s last novel, has been praised by Edmund Wilson as ¡°beautifully written.¡± And Willa Cather described its style as ¡°exquisite,¡± ¡°sensitive,¡± and ¡°iridescent.¡±

This edition of The Awakening also includes a selection of short stories by Kate Chopin.

Customer Reviews:

  • Literary Lottery
    Required reading in many university (and high school) curricula because of its "political" importance, The Awakening is the "heroic" tale of woman who has an affair, leaves her family, and walks into the ocean. I had little sympathy for a single character and wondered upon finishing it if the literary canon isn't just some sort of lottery. Even my literature professor (in another of my short and aborted seasons in the academy), who was given to short bursts of impassioned homily about the universal sacrifice of women and the universal culpability of men, etc. admitted that the book was weak, but she was also teaching women's studies, so The Awakening was going to stay. As I say, another short season in the academy.
    ...more info
  • a true awakening
    This book was an amazing read from the begining i was hooked like a junkie on drugs. At first i was hesitant because I really didnt know what to expect. i had never heard of kate chopin or the history behind it.
    A women finds herself tied down in a marrige with kids she does not want. this being a huge taboo because god forbid a women in that century could even think for herself. Our heroin through the book discovers herself, falls trully in love, and in a steamy passionate affair. So much to do so little time. Like i said great book a must read!!!!
    ...more info
  • Some quick thoughts on the novel
    Please tell me this: what sort of feminist commits suicide after losing the man she loves? Now I know that Edna mentions that Robert was merely symbolic of her freedom, rather than someone she cared about, but consider it my way. Her rejection of her love for Robert lasted for a small paragraph, and seems especially ridiculous when compared to her time spent mooning over him--roughly seven-eights of the book. When taken into consideration the fact that she commits suicide right after he leaves her, one is forced to conclude that her short rejection of her feelings is nothing more than denial.
    While I must admit that her lack of love for her children turned her into a character I could never like, she's not even a well composed character in her unlikeableness. Near the end, before committing suicide, she claims that her reason for such a dramatic act is to escape the control her husband and children have upon her. The question I found myself pondering was: is she ****ing delusional? She hasn't seen her husband for months, has moved out of his house, has taken a new lover, hasn't seen her children for weeks, didn't even have to see her children when they lived together since she had a nursemaid, and clearly isn't only selfish, but is also mentally ill. When she began to describe her children as demons possessing her soul, I came to the obvious conclusion that illness Edna suffered from was Paranoid Schizophrenia. Since there was no knowledge of such a disease in Chopin's time, it makes sense that she might have created this character and thought her to be rational, if she based the character off of someone she had met. However, since we are aware of the disease today, readers should avoid admiring Edna's behavior and concern receiving mental help if they find their thought processes mirroring hers.
    I am not going to criticize the book for being boring or the protagonist for being immoral, but I would like it if readers would note that the true awakening of Edna involved her death and avoid from recommending it to their friends as a good example of a woman learning how to live her life. In some cases, espousing suicide is illegal and I would hate for anyone on here to be arrested for encouraging someone to commit suicide. ...more info
  • A person searching for meaning is NOT feminism
    I purchased this book for my son's AP lit class. He read it and described Edna as an angry woman not happy with her life. I wondered how that made it a book about feminism and decided to read it. Now that I am done, I feel very sad for Edna. Given the description of Edna she could have depression. She loves her children, but not always...possibly postpartum depression that is continually getting worse. I believe the things Edna questions are not limited to women. I imagine many men of that time and now get married because it is the thing to do. Pursue jobs they do not like, but must take. Have children because that is what is expected. I believe Chopin is questioning societal expections of her time for both men and women. Clearly Leonce is floundering. The rug has been pulled out from under him. He was following the plan and now it has changed. No, this is NOT a book about feminism. This is about an individuals struggle to find him or herself. About accepting responsibility or being selfish. I can't wait to read the book that is paired with this for his AP class: Memoirs of a Geisha....more info
  • Classic
    The Awakening is a novella about a young married woman in New Orleans during the late 1800s who suddenly develops a taste for freedom - to make her own decisions and live with the consequences. An exciting concept only because of the setting. The storyline is really very mild for today's readers.

    The only thing that makes this underdeveloped novella worth reading today is knowing what era the author was from and the impact it made with her peers when this story was released. Were it published today it would quickly disappear into oblivion. ...more info
  • This book is inspiring.
    This was required reading for my previous year of ap english II. I thought it was very well written and thorough. I loved it. It is a very well written novel and the fact that I was required to read it for an english class and really enjoyed it means a lot. It is about/deals with feminism in 1800s and if you don't consider the time period while reading the book then you will miss it's incredible meaning.

    thank you for your time,
    Loran...more info
  • the awakening
    In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, the protagonist of the story, Edna Pontellier, is a woman in the late 1800's who has been living a life of the expectations of the women of that time. She is a devoted wife and mother. After a vacation in Grand Isle, she meets new friends and new surroundings that influence the way she thinks. These influences also help to establish herself as an independent woman and break free from the traditional everyday womanly duties. But, will this road to becoming independent consume her so much that she will lose everything that she has come to known? It all starts with the new friends she meets while she is on vacation with her family at Grand Isle.

    While Edna is on her vacation, she meets Adele Ratignolle, the epitome of the typical 1800's woman. Chopin describes these women as "women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it as a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels." (Chopin 10) She also says women, in particular Creole women, were impressive because of their freedom of expression about anything, including things society doesn't speak openly about like romantic gossip. Edna on the other hand is the complete opposite and is not the "mother-woman" type. She admires Adele because of her quality of being outspoken and it inspires her to think about old times in her youth of romantic dreams or fantasies. This is the start of Edna beginning to think in depth about her life. It also makes her begin to be more outspoken, especially to her husband. With her being more outspoken, she is able to break free from the natural hold her husband has on her and becomes free. It also begins the unspoken love that she has for another character in the story, Robert Lebrun.

    Robert is what the people at Grand Isle call a big flirt. Every year he courts a different woman but this time, when he chooses Edna, everything is different. Since most of the women that Robert courts are Creole women, they find his flirting funny and they enjoy his company. Edna on the other hand, takes it seriously and begins to develop feelings for Robert. She sees in Robert everything that she doesn't have with her husband: love and devotion. They develop a relationship where they're together all the time but they never admit their feelings for each other. One day, Robert announces that he will be leaving for Mexico for business. With Robert's absence, Edna drives to become more and more independent. After she has left Grand Isle, she becomes more defiant with her husband, doing whatever she pleases. This causes her to really discover how she has no feelings for him whatsoever. She decides to move out of the house and into a smaller house because she felt like it was not homely. All these things that Edna are very uncommon for women of this time to do. Another important aspect of change that Edna experiences is her drive to succeed in art, which Mademoiselle Reisz pushes her to fulfill.
    Mademoiselle Reisz is what most would call an old hag. Edna is the only person that she shows some sort of respect to. The Mademoiselle plays the piano exquisitely and Edna admires her. One night, she is asked to play some pieces on the piano and as soon as Edna hears it, she is moved. "She waited for the material pictures which she thought would gather and blaze before her imagination. She waited in vain. She saw no pictures of solitude, of hope, of longing or of despair. But the passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it." (Chopin 34) The author is describing how instead of typically seeing certain images that she normally does every time she hears this particular pieces play, Edna actually felt certain passions from the music itself. Edna sees that music is Reisz' passion and soon she seeks to follow her own passion of painting. These three characters in this novel have truly been the reasons to why Edna has changed to become an independent person.

    In books, usually the plot and themes stand out the most to what makes the book good or bad. In this novel, Chopin has made complex characters that affect the protagonist of the story. I think that with Chopin doing this, it has made the story more interesting to read as to how this rebellion has been inflicted to Edna. Although these characters unintentionally drove Edna to her success of freedom, it also had its downfalls as well. Edna could have been labeled independent, she still had two things that were bound to her: her husband and children. "They were part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her body, soul and mind." (Chopin 156) Edna couldn't except that her children would always be affected in society their opinion of her, so therefore, she kills herself by drowning in the ocean "accidentally." This may be a sad ending, but I liked it because I thought of it as Edna accepting the consequences of leaving something so important behind only for her self. Overall, I think that this was a well-written story, although at times it was hard to understand because there were a lot of French phrases in it. Reading it has inspired me to become independent, while watching out for not neglecting others I care about for selfish desires.


    ...more info
  • A cutting edge novel for its time
    If you enjoy novels that address the social norms and conventions of a given time period, this is one you won't want to miss. I was first introduced to this book as a sophomore in college in my "Women Writers of the 20th Century" English class. Kate Chopin masterfully paints a picture of a woman desperately seeking more in her life; a woman who doesn't "fit the mold" of societal conventions at the turn of the 20th century. Chopin slowly builds Edna Pontellier bit by bit, painstakingly peeling away at the layers and the facades this woman has been taught to put on--and which her character throws off with fancy free and terrible heartache almost simultaneously. Edna is a flawed heroine, but perhaps that is why the reader becomes entranced with her. There is a little of Edna Pontellier in all of us--seeking the essence of life; seeking love and freedom....more info
  • Good, But Lesser than the Hype



    This book is labeled a classic most likely because it is considered to be one of the earliest feminist novels. I suspect the message of "The Awakening" may not be as feminist as the feminists would like. It seems to me to have much more to do with the contrast between two cultures, Anglo and Creole, and about the difficult balance between reserve and over-indulgence.

    But many consider that it must be a feminist novel, because the main character engages in a profound and courageous assault on the domineering patriarchal establishment: she commits adultery and then kills herself! I know adultery is the darling of the feminist (c.f. "Madam Bovary"), but could it be that neither of these acts are a part of a profound awakening? Could it be that these are the pitiful actions of a weak woman who is unable to experience a true spiritual awakening?

    To pity oneself is not the same as to courageously rage against the establishment, especially when the establishment is (like Edna's husband) rather mild and non-oppressive. Nor is suicide inherently profound.

    "The Awakening" is an easy read and it makes for a rich study in symbolism. But it is not quite the treasure chest the literary critics have so gleefully mined.

    ...more info
  • wait a month to get
    I bought my book on jan 4 and didn't get it till the 2nd of feb. It apparently takes a month to send it across two states. Also what is great is when you email the seller they never email you back and then all of a sudden get it a month later when you have a class 20 days after you bought it and then couldn't do your homework. A high class seller amazons 1 seller greatttttttttttt!!!...more info
  • read it twice!
    loved the fact that it was extremely descriptive with not just the surroundings, but also the emotional stages of the main character. amy tan said her salvation to her misery was books. i felt at times i wish i was the writer so i could write a salvation for main character. i was addicted to this book. what a rare read....more info
  • Edna's Exit: Why?
    When THE AWAKENING was first published at the end of the 19th century, Kate Chopin was roundly criticized for what her critics saw as her attempts to subvert the "normal" order of the male superiority to women. She found it difficult to find a publisher for her future works, and it took a very long time before this book was resurrected by a growing feminist movement that saw in Edna Pontellier a potent symbol of a woman who was willing to pay the ultimate penalty to shed the patriarchal shackles that bound American women.

    Edna is a twenty-nine year old woman, married, has children, and in thoroughly conventional, at least at the start. But Chopin uses foreshadowing to indicate that all is not well in the Pontellier household. Her husband is a much older stuffy bear of a man who thinks in a stereotypical fashion that today's feminists would term male chauvinist. When Edna comes in with a sunburn, he looks at her "as one looks at a valuable piece of property." As long as Edna remains valuable in the sense that she maintains her status of subservience, then as far as he is concerned, all is well with her, and by extension, their relationship. As Edna begins to show slight but measurable changes in her personality, it becomes clear that when he married Edna, he married a woman who was normalized to function only in the narrow confines of her immediate surroundings. But change she does in a way that Chopin ironically notes: "He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him and valued so little his conversation." Not only does Chopin indicate that Edna is drifting away from her husband but also toward a state of depressive non-existence: "An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish." This anguish becomes increasingly pronounced as she attempts to fill the void with an affair with Robert Lebrun, who says that he has fallen in love with her, but he soon enough takes off to Mexico. When she later questions him why he left and why she was the one to contact him, he replied that he loved her too much to maintain contact with a married woman.

    The pivotal point occurs at the end when Edna takes off her clothes and strolls out into the sea and drowns. Her motivation is not clear, possibly because Kate Chopin takes the actions of a woman who had been portrayed as strong-willed enough to leave her husband and children, find suitable accommodations for herself, and aggressively pursue the object of her affections. True, he dumps her with a note, which she uses as the reason for her suicide. Was her death wish the result of a woman who has suddenly turned weak-willed enough to allow her depression to overwhelm her or was Chopin using Edna To Make A Statement about the rights of an oppressed gender? No one has yet devised a suitable motivation but her closing call of death serves to warn us that the complexities of an unfulfilled life, when unaddressed, can lead to tragedy. Edna's exit certainly attests to that.
    ...more info
  • great book about individuality
    This is a great book about the importance of self expression and individuality, it was way ahead of her time.

    'The Awakening' is about a ninteenth century woman named Edna, and through seeing the restrictions of marriage, and the expression of art, seeks independence, but as a consequence becomes isolated.

    I loved this book alot, it is a must read for anyone who can read....more info
  • This is not feminism
    When my friend and I ran across a list of 101 books that were recommended to be read before college, we realized we had only read a small percentage of the books and made a vow to read more. One of the books on the list was "The Awakening," and as we had studied Kate Chopin in school and it was readily available online, we decided to both read it. Both of us had read it by the next day, and we both reached the same conclusion: Chopin's protagonist, Edna, was a selfish woman who was not strong at all, as a truly strong woman would have continued on even after the man she loved left her.

    The book is written beautifully, hence the two stars. But Edna is completely unidentifiable. She is twenty-eight, yet she seems to do everything on impulse. Yes, maybe she did rush irrationally into an ultimately loveless marriage -- but her husband is not a monster, so doesn't she at least owe him some consideration? Not to mention her children -- she seems to not have the slightest regard for them, only showing affection in fits and starts.

    This book should be read, if only to show what strength is not -- strength is not what Edna does in the end of this story. However, you may find yourself struggling to get through it, as Edna is often very frustrating. In conclusion -- this is NOT feminism. In fact, before reading this story I had immense respect for Kate Chopin, respect gained from reading her short stories. I lost some of that respect after seeing what she apparently believed was the solution for Edna's problems....more info

  • Review of book
    I had to have this for my English CompII class. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was alright. Good story of a woman who wants it all and ends up with nothing....more info
  • an interesting read
    I was forced to read this book in AP English my senior year, but I actually found it intriguing once I got into the plot and became familiar with the characters. What I really liked was how Chopin had every setting match the mood that the character felt; everything that surrounded the characters was symbolic of their emotions or what they were feeling, especially when it focused on Edna. Anyone could identify with her situation if they concentrate on the book with an open mind, and it is basically a look at the thoughts/emotions of a Creole woman who finds herself in an affair, but the book has many more elements to it that make it mean much more than a typical love & infidelity story. I would suggest reading it slowly and thinking about the reasons behind the characters' actions and dialogue, everything means something and this way the reader gets more out of the book. :)...more info
  • A Statement on Non-Traditional Sensibilities
    An interesting portrayal of how non-traditional
    women seem to have no options. Awaiting the
    modern day version. Who's going to write it????...more info
  • Still Fresh, Still Elegant
    THE AWAKENING is Kate Chopin's best known work, and it is also the last novel she produced, largely owing to the fact that it scandalized Americans when it was published at the end of the 19th century. Critics were dismissive; Willa Cather suggested it was a Bovary wannabe. It enjoyed a revival with the coming of feminism in the 1970s, featured on women's studies' syllabi and as a frequent pick for feminist reading groups. The question begs, "Is it still fresh or is it a period piece?" I say it's still fresh, a classic worth reading beyond its obvious affinity for women's studies. Given its short length and velvety, vivid prose, it is also an easy read, so there's no reason not to give it a go.

    This is the story of a 28-year-old wife and mother in fasionable New Orleans Creole society of the 1890s, who begins to respond to socially unprogrammed feelings about her desires in life. She gives into feelings for a man not her husband, resists her husband's efforts to control her life and indulges her artistic side. She sets herself on a difficult trajectory that requires, as a friend tells her, strong wings. Whether those wings are strong enough forms the tension of the novel. Don't read any critical introductions or biographical detail before reading this book, because most give away the ending. Chopin is a master story teller and a deft literary writer. The story of a woman trying to salvage the self in a social pressure cooker was not totally unheard of in the late 19th and early years of the 20th century, and it has had several outings in the last 3 decades, but Chopin writes as if she were the first and last to tackle the theme, and her twists are original. The eye on the affluent Creole society and the character development are superb.
    ...more info
  • after all.. its a solitary soul
    The Awakening, originally titled A Solitary Soul, is one of the most classic examples of the books of liberation. First published at the end of the 1890s, depicts the life of an American woman named Edna married and socialized among a circle of Creoles (immigrants of the French ancestry). Every summer, her family and the Creoles go on vacation to an island. This one particular summer, Edna falls in love with a young creole named Robert. This agonizing love affair between a married woman and a younger man propelled Edna to a series of self liberation. Kate Chopin throws in the idea of "the desire of the unabtainable", such as a nun would be a subject of desire, namely the more unreachable the more desirable. Edna, a married woman, is in this book, the unabtainable. Another issue about this book, which Chopin was very severly criticized (well.. it was the 1890s afterall, but the book was revived with acclaim in the 1950s during the woman's movement) was feminism. Edna says in the book the she will do anything for her children but she will not sacrifice herself...

    However, the biggest controversy is the ending. Whether it is another awakening or something else (you should decide it for yourself), I think the book should have gone with its original title- A Solitary Soul....more info

  • I must admit..
    I must admit I found this book quite boring. I can't get past Kate Chopin's rather excessive writing style. I had to read this book for my American Literature class, so I am sure there is much merit to it, but "zzzz".

    It has an interesting idea overall though. The opression of women in the 1800s and how it destroyed some brilliant people; or maybe even kept them from becoming real people. While we were discussing this book in class, a classmate of mine said that Edna seemed to be copying the actions of those around her because she hadn't been able to develop her own personality. I think we all know how that is, sometimes. I think that idea would be interesting in a modern setting. Maybe a young person who grows up in the big city and is blank until he goes out into the country and finds his true passion for farming.

    This is probably an important book for those interested in feminism to study. I would like to study it but without all the lengthy prose. ...more info
  • THERE IS NO AWAKENING
    THE AWAKENING is well written and provides interesting insights into a woman undergoing a personality transformation. However, the title is misleading. There is no awakening, merely a woman emerging from one delusional perception of the world into another even detached from reality. All-in-all, a pessimistic book that is unlikely to inspire anyone going through a similar experience to rise above it.
    (Peter Payne, author of CAPTAIN CALIFORNIA BATTLES THE BEELZEBUBIAN BEASTS OF THE BIBLE)...more info
  • The Awakening
    Edna Pontellier meets this guy named Robert Lubron. Edna adn Robert start going out, and Edna eventually falls in love with him. A while into the relationship Edna tells Robert that she wants to have a baby and that she wants Robert to be the father. Robert doesn't like the idea as much as Edna and he leaves her. Adele Ratignolle gets pregnant and that makes Edna a little sad that Adele gets to have a baby and she doesn't. Adele tells Edna that carrying and having a baby is horrible and that Edna is lucky that she isn't having a baby. Edna is still upset that she isn't having a baby. The next day when Edna gets home from the store she realizes that Robert is back. When she asked him why he was there he told her that he wanted her back and that he was sorry that he ever left her in the first place. ...more info
  • "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin
    The first time I began reading The Awakening (for my 11th grade honors English class), I was not particularly taken in by the actual story; instead I noticed how quickly I finished the assigned pages. The prose was breezily written, and I enjoyed Chopin's description of the setting.

    In class the next day, students were commenting on how dull and somewhat confusing the book seemed. Even my teacher admitted that the story was hard to understand. At first, I did not agree with my teacher's or classmates' opinions, but as their dissatisfaction with the book increased -- eventually, so did mine.

    The highly-descriptive prose began to wear on me at about the same time I began to dislike Edna Pontellier. In class discussions, various students -- both male and female -- noted how irresponsible she acted towards her children. One example I remember my teacher pointing out is the part that Edna's husband Leonce remarks on the low quality of the dinner one evening. Had Edna prepared the meal herself, any frustration with her husband would have been more justified. Unfortunately, she and Leonce are wealthy enough to have a cook who goes through the work of making dinner each night. In fact, they have servants to take care of all domestic chores.

    In a way, I can see her feeling put upon when she has to take care of her husband's clients and can understand that a mother is not always thrilled about her children. But to say she is highly oppressed is pushing it. Leonce is described as a monster of a person, but his words and actions come across as relatively tame. Even as he wonders what's "wrong" with Edna when he visits the Doctor, he comments that he is wary of confronting her.

    Throughout the story, Edna does not grow very much as an individual. The fact that she found love with Robert was touching, but the fact that she abandoned her husband without so much as a word that she was feeling stifled by the relationship was disrespectful. As I said before, Leonce was not abusive and controlling. I wish Mrs. Pontellier had learned that finding oneself does not require avoiding current responsibilities, no matter how hastily acquired. The ending was unfortunate, but did not change my opinions about Edna.

    Overall, this isn't a terrible book. I just don't consider it a work of great depth and meaning. I give this book three stars because there are a couple of memorable scenes.

    I would suggest this book for anyone looking for a quick, occasionally enjoyable read. The story will seem better if one does not expect to finish the book with heightened self-awareness or a radically altered view of society....more info
  • The "Blinding"
    I wish I could give this book a 0 rating. I have yet to understand why this world figures that a woman (or man) must be immoral in order to make a name for herself, or discover her soul. The only thing I enjoyed about this book is how it brought me back to a darn near picture perfect example of the immoral woman written about in the Book of Proverbs as compared to the woman of wisdom. The main character was so selfish in this book. I did feel sorry for the character because of her lost state but, ultimately I found my self very detached from this woman. This book is more about being blind and decieved rather than "awakened." I can now conculed I am not a fan of Mrs. Chopin or her incoherent character Edna! I understand the concept of equality for women, but come on, is this piece of literature really desired as a voice for feminism! In all my encounters with that which is labeled as dealing with the feminist cause/ feminist literature/feminist ideals, I have yet to be persuaded that is someting worthy of association with. ...more info
  • Great book, even a great feminist book, but...
    ...but many reviewers, especially those who do hail it as the great 19th Feminist work, miss some glaring problems with the text. Before I get into that, let's go ahead and satisfy the skimmers: This book's only mildly entertaining by today's standards, though quite rebellious, and has a nice little argument to offer on what it means to be, not just a woman, but an artist (something, though, that the main character is unable to do). It's set down in Louisiana, so as a piece of the local color movement it also has quite a bit of appeal. Assuming you can find the style interesting (hopefully if you've ended up here on this book, you can), Chopin very skillfully captures the dialect and social dynamic of the region.

    K, that done...problem number one: Many servants (and, by extension, African-American) characters are almost deliberately marginalized. For well over half of the book they are all (with the small exception of Joe) refered to by either their job (cook, maid, etc.) or racial heritage ("the quadroon," "the mulatto," etc.). Now, other white characters are similarly treated, but in each case they are also dignified with heavy symbolic weight ("the lady in black" and "lovers on the beach" best represent this). Why? I don't argue that Chopin herself is racist--far from it--but there is no doubt that her main character is, at least to some extent, and as a feminist heroine, she is weakened by it.

    Second (and probably most obvious): The ending. Don't worry, I'm not going to give it away (though if you've read "The Sorrows of Young Werther" by Goethe, then you'll see it coming). Regardless, you'll know it when you get to it. It's a big, big problem when your protagonist is supposed to be a model of heroism.

    There are other problems with this as a purely feminist text, but they are either minor, or related to the two above. At any point, I'm not going to get into them. However, all these problems may be resolved. To this point, a lot of weight has been attached to this book both because of Chopin's overt feminism in her other works (the "Story of an Hour" comes to mind) and because feminists in the 60's and 70's just seemed to want to rally around it, and as a result many of these problems have just been glossed over. They are resolvable, even from a feminist perspective, but only by rejecting most of the weight that has already been thrust upon it and wholly re-evaluating the book; pay attention to Madameiselle Reisz, though--she helps in these resolution. I only point these inconsistencies out so that hopefully you might read more critically, and not be overwhelmed by the blind vigor that many proponents scream over it with. Four stars for its depth of feminism, not for it's blunt force....more info
  • Lovely
    I don't know if I have such great memories of this book because my friends I made such fun of it--but most of the books we mock are things we truly enjoyed.

    Honestly, we all get a little sick of the depression and the whininess, but essentially this is a deep and thought-provoking novel of early feminism. It's symbolic and beautiful despite all its darkness. ...more info
  • Ahead of her time
    Kate Chopin's The Awakening gives an insightful look into the life of a woman trapped in a marriage and a life that doesn't befit her. The characters are very well done -- not all of them are deep, but for good reason. Chopin's writing style never ceases to amaze. I've read this book three or four times, and it never loses its power, its impact. There are themes throughout that give the story a deeper meaning. When you read it, think about the elderly widow and what she represents, and the young lovers. Everything means something, and it is all tied together very well. It's the best book I've ever read. I simply love it. ...more info
  • A Long Wait for Awakening
    Edna Pontellier spends her summers on Grand Isle, a fashionable place for the wealthy. She lives there with her husband and children, in a dull existence with no identity of her own. But something happens to Edna one summer. She grows tired. She practically burst with the feeling that she must live before she dies and that she has yet to really lived at all! She emerges into vibrancy and womanhood only to do the unthinkable in the end.

    The story begins with Edna on the beach while her husband, Robert Lebrun, contemplates whether he should spend the evening at his club, which would benefit them socially, or dine with his family. This is the reader's first insight to the importance Mr. LaBrun places on his social standing. It is quickly understood that Edna does not share her husband need for societal gains. The book grows more intriguing as the tension mounts between Edna and her husband. As long as she takes her social duties seriously, he is happy. It is when she chooses to ignore her social obligations, however, that their relationship and the story takes its most interesting turn.

    In writing The Awakening, Kate Chopin was well ahead of her time. The novel was met with a great deal of controversy. Even fans of her work prior to this novel, shunned her. She was a pioneer creating women characters beyond the role of wife and mother. She wrote about women's feelings, sexuality, and independence. It took America decades to catch up with Kate Chopin. It is important to add that Chopin used a lot of symbols in all of her work and that The Awakening is full of them. These symbols serve to add meaning to the text and to underline some subtle points. Understanding the meaning of these symbols is vital to a full appreciation of the story. Some of the major symbols include birds, art, sleep, piano playing, the gulf, the moon, and learning to swim.

    For information about Kate Chopin's life and other book reviews of southern authors visit www.southernlitreview.com...more info
  • A 190 page book that felt like 400
    Among so many lengthy reviews, allow me to make this pithy with no apology: It is clear to me that this is considered an American classic not for any particular merit in Chopin's writing but solely in the controversy that surrounded its publication. If you're looking for a rich and stirring piece of American literature, keep looking....more info
  • A Revolutionary Statement
    This novel of Kate Chopin's is based loosely on the (possibly) true story of a women who was infamous in New Orleans when Chopin lived there. Yet despite the truth of the story and its message, society rejected Chopin following the publication of The Awakening. This short novel is not about adultery, or glorifying suicide. It is a powerful statement about the power that people, and especially in Chopin's time, women, have to control their lives.

    Chopin develops the character of Edna Pointellier to demonstrate the ways that even those who seem as though they should be happy do not fit into the place assigned them by society. Throughout the book, Edna Pointellier is contrasted with Madame Ragnitolle, a woman who is naturally suited to the role of wife and mother. This novel is a reminder that there is no one life which can fit all people, whether the life of a mother or an artist or a working woman. People must be free to make their own choices. In many ways, that message is as revolutionary today as it was a century ago....more info
  • A beautiful and sensual Victorian classic!
    I'd never read Kate Chopin before, but The Awakening seemed like a good place to start. The premise of this book seemed interesting. Set in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, this classic tale tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a proper wife and mother who lives a rather passionless life with her husband in a cottage near the beach. She becomes rather aware of herself and that there has to be more to life than what she has experienced. And so, she experiences a sexual awakening when she has an affair with a younger, unmarried man. And that is just the beginning of her journey, which includes getting rid of her husband and children to continue on her route to self-discovery. But will she find happiness in a world where women are oppressed and an uninhibited nature is considered wrong?

    The most interesting part about this novel is that life sort of imitated art. Edna has a sort of tragic ending in this novel, and so does Chopin in some way. I read in the foreword that this book was banned when it was first published in 1899 and that Chopin's reputation was ruined as a result of writing this. She was ostracized and her writing career came to a screeching halt. Little did Chopin and others know that this would become a classic, a prime example of the beginning of the women's movement and the beginning of literature in the form of women's erotica, which is now so popular there are several imprints devoted to sensual stories written by women for women. I loved reading this book because Edna's transition is slow and realistic, no abrupt changes here, and the sexual tension is almost palpable. This novel sort of reminds me of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover and it also has some similarities with Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. But The Awakening is a classic in its own right and I'm glad I gave it a whirl. I've been rereading classics like crazy as of late and it was refreshing to read this one for the first time. I recommend it to fans of unique Victorian literature....more info
  • The most adaptable novel of all time.
    This revolutionary novel took place in the Victorian era with Edna Pontellier stealing most of the limelight. This novel depicts conflicting issues: to cheat or not to cheat? From the beginning, Edna begins feeling unusual and intolerable feelings towards a man that is not her husband. She began feeling love and happiness, which were two feelings that she never felt before: not even towards her husband. And the man that brought on these feelings was Robert, innocent and honorable. These two met when vacationing off the coast of New Orleans and instantly felt a connection, even though they thought of it as a "friendly connection." Yet when Robert unexpectadly left for Mexico, Edna began feeling a void in her life and soon found out that she couldnt't live without Robert. As time progressed, she began making changes that would effect everyone around her, from her husband and children to women from all over. She began filling the void by isolating herself from her husband, sleeping with another man, and eventually moving out. This novel is the most adaptable because it can relate to any generation and any person that is put in that kind of situation, which I think makes it such a worthwhile and interesting novel....more info
  • Dispensable
    In this brief novel, Kate Chopin tries to depict the spiritual awakening of a privileged young woman. Unfortunately, the book doesn't make much sense. When Edna, the protagonist, casts away her public self to become her true self, we might suppose that her quality of life would improve. Instead she exercises poorer and poorer judgment, ultimately destroying herself. Edna is not a likeable or even an authentic character, and the supporting cast is almost as unattractive. In this novel, even New Orleans seems to have no attractions. The Awakening is not terrible; it just has little to offer....more info
  • Agony of Awakening
    This book was interestingly informative in providing a view of society in the 19th century. Women were treated as property and had little to no option in doing as they wished. Kate Chopin's character Edna fights to break free from this entrapment and discovers herself, only to find that it is too late. The New Orleans setting is accurately depicted by Kate Chopin who actually wrote this book while living in New Orleans. The actual dialect of New Orleans society is included in the story; a mixture of french, english, and creole. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a women's sudden realization that there is more to life than just living.
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  • The lost
    The story was beautifully written. The author did not provide any solution to the problem Edna was struggling with. Although I like the writing, the heroine is completely the opposite of independent female. I have to confess that i could not sacrifice myself for my two wonderful boys either. however, so far, I don't have to sacrifice anything. I can understand her abandoning the husband, but how could she leave her children? To me, she is completely lost in her lust....more info