The Awakening by Kate Chopin Book Review

The Awakening by Kate Chopin Book Review

The Awakening by Kate Chopin Book Review
The Awakening by Kate Chopin Book Review

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Original title – ” A Solitary Soul”

“Good-by—because I love you.” He did not know; he did not understand. He would never understand. Perhaps Doctor Mandelet would have understood if she had seen him—but it was too late; the shore was far behind her, and her strength was gone.”

No one can touch her to her depths, not her husband, children or her lover Robert or society. Edna Pontellier discovers that she cannot be the person society expects her to be. She seeks her freedom over everything else. She can be an artist, a lover, a mother, or a wife. But above everything she can be a free soul. She loves Robert passionately but realises whether it is Robert or Alcee Arobin, no one can see her except through a certain angle. Both of them reflect Society’s beliefs not their understanding regarding Edna’s character.

She had said over and over to herself:

“Today it is Arobin; tomorrow it will be someone else. It makes no difference.”

Story Plot:

The Awakening opens at the summer resort of Grand Isle, a small hotel located fifty miles off the coast of New Orleans. There she meets Robert Lebrun, the son of the resort owner. Moonlit walks in intimate conversations with Robert and sparks feelings between them.

But as their chemistry condenses suddenly Robert leaves Edna for Mexico.

Edna comes back to her city life but she cannot re-enter into her earlier self just as an obedient wife and caring mother.

Even when Robert comes back she cannot feel the love she wishes to find in Robert for her. And when Robert leaves her for the final time.

Edna spends a sleepless night and in the morning she goes to Grand Isle. There she goes for a swim. She swims out quite far with her disturbed heart. When she realised it, it was too late for her she has no strength to return to the shore.

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, a great sensation:

Though this theme of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is very common in today’s context it caused huge public uproar in 1899 when it was published by Herbert S. Stone and Company. Critics condemn Chopin for allowing Edna to make her final choice in life. A woman after all should not be given so much freedom and priority. None of Chopin’s work acclaim claims success and notoriety at the same time.


It is awakening in the character of Edna, wife of Mr. Leonce Pontellier and mother of two children. While spending their family vacation at the seaside resort Edna and Robert meet. Robert pays special attention to Edna and sparks kindles within her that  Edna has forgotten. Edna can discern her sexuality, her love and  desire. And at this critical juncture of her realization Edna wishes to depart from her prescribed mother-wife role.

And that was the awakening on her part, awakening to her own independent identity, becoming conscious of her own sexual demands.

Edna’s awakening is not a single distinct incident spurred by her love for Robert but a series of disillusionment that she experiences throughout her journey.

Best Lines I can not avoid Quoting:

“You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,’ I should laugh at you both.”

“You are burnt beyond recognition,” he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.”

Alvina’s Verdict:

Chopin’s daring theme in her novel The Awakening is smartly cobbled with her characters’ inner conflict. The plot is interwoven with Edna’s constant self-searching in this society where she is re-colonized and doubly featured by the patriarchal set-up. Chopin in her outstanding and bold pen perfectly draws the emotions brewing in the heart of the protagonist. She successfully captures all the depths and dreads of Edna’s psyche.





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