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The Awakening. By: Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin.

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the awakening

The Awakening

By: Kate Chopin

kate chopin
Kate Chopin
  • Born in 1850 to Eliza and Thomas O'Flaherty. She was the third of five children, but her sisters died in infancy and her brothers (from her father's first marriage) in their early twenties. She was the only child to live past the age of twenty-five.
  • She lived with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all of them widows.
  • Her first novel was published in 1890
kate chopin continued
Kate Chopin Continued
  • Had 6 Children by the age of 28
  • Was known as a great wife and mother but often grew tired of domestic life and would find ways to escape societies expectations (smoking, solitary walks through New Orleans)
  • Rumored to have had an affair with a married man after her husband had passed
  • The Awakening was widely condemned. Considered “morbid”, “vulgar”, and “disagreeable”
  • Setting: Written 1899, Grand Isle & New Orleans
  • Point of View: Third Person Omniscient
  • GENRE: Bildungsroman
important characters
Important Characters
  • Edna Pontellier - Protagonist
  • Mademoiselle Reisz -  Pianist, knows about Edna and Robert
  • AdèleRatignolle - Ideal Victorian woman, inspires Edna’s transgressions
  • Robert Lebrun - Edna’s emotional lover
  • AlcéeArobin - Edna’s physical lover
  • LéoncePontellier - Edna’s husband
secondary characters
Secondary Characters
  • The Colonel- Edna’s father
  • Victor Lebrun- Robert’s younger brother
  • Madam Lebrun- Robert and Victor’s widowed mother
  • The two lovers- representation of young love
  • The Farvial Twins- representation of proper young women
  • Mrs. Highcamp- introduces Edna to Alcee
  • Janet and Margret- Edna’s younger and older sister
  • Mariequita- a Spanish girl involved with the Lebrun brothers
  • Madame Antoine
  • The Merrimans, Miss Mayblunt, and Mr. Gouvernail- party guests
  • Etienne and Raul Pontellir- Edna and Leonce’s sons
summary overview
Summary Overview
  • Léonce watches as his wife, Edna, come toward him from the beach
  • Léonceis in a great mood when he returns from playing pool late that evening. He wakes Edna to tell her the news and gossip from the club, and he is disappointed when she responds with half-answers.
  • He goes to check on his sons and informs Edna that Raoul seems to have a fever. She replies that the child was fine when he went to bed, but Léonce insists that she attend to him, criticizing Edna for her “habitual neglect of the children.”
  • Léonceleaves for a week long business trip and sends Edna Bon-bon’s back
  • She shares them with her friends who are saying such nice things under pressure they force Edna to so say “she knows of none better.”
  • Edna does not “idolize” her children or “worship” her husband at the cost of her own individuality.
summary overview1
Summary Overview
  • Edna becomes best friends with Adele Ratignolle
  • Edna discovers freedom of expression
  • Edna begins to “awaken”
  • Robert Lebrun comes into the picture
  • Robert decided to devote himself to Edna for the summer
  • A relationship blooms
  • Edna learns how to swim and discovers it as an outlet for her independence and sexuality.
  • Robert leaves to go to Mexico to avoid consummating their love
  • Edna and her Family leaves to return home in New Orleans
summary overview2
Summary Overview
  • Leonce thinks his wife is behaving strangely and calls Doctor Mandeletfor help
  • Doctor Mandelet suspects an affair is causing her weird behavior
  • He keeps his suspicions to himself and tells Leonce to just let her “defiance” run its course
  • Leonce goes on a business trip and leaves Edna home again
  • Edna moves out and buys herself a new house and decides to be independent
  • Edna has sexual needs but has no one to fulfill them
  • Edna is taken under the wing of pianist Mademoiselle Reisz as she continues her awakening process
  • Since Robert is still away, she goes to Alcee Arobin, to satisfy her sexual needs
summary overview3
Summary Overview
  • When Robert returns he tells Edna he loves her but can’t be with her because of her husband
  • Adele (the perfect model) notices Edna’s distance and tells her to think of her Children and all she would be leaving behind
  • Edna comes home to find Robert gone with a goodbye note being all he left
  • Edna realizes that eventually even Robert wouldn’t be enough to satisfy her
  • Edna feels completely alone with no where to belong
  • She returns to the place of her emotional, sexual, and intellectual awakening, Grand Isle
  • Edna begins to think about her husband, children, Robert
  • Edna surrenders herself to the sea
  • Edna’s rebellious and independent actions in the second half of the novel.
  • In Chapter VIII, Adèlewarns Robert that Edna is different from the other women on Grand Isle, and may take his affections seriously.
  • Adèle’sconcerns and Robert’s reply that he wishes Edna would take him seriously both set the later romantic relations between the two.
  • The lurking presence of the Widowed lady in black behind the two young lovers suggests the tragic end that will come to the lovers’ (Edna and Robert).
  • Edna’s suicide is foreshadowed countless times throughout the novel. The surge of power and momentary vision of death Edna feels during this swim foreshadow her eventual suicide.
motifs symbols
Motifs/ Symbols
  • Music- enables her own (visual) art to flourish. 
  • Children- Edna realizes her children’s lives will always be affected by society’s opinion of her.
  • Houses- Edna stayed in many houses
  • Symbols
  • Birds: caged birds serve as reminders of Edna’s entrapment and also of the entrapment of Victorian women in general.
  • The Sea- freedom and escape; rebirth (baptism)
  • “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”
  • “How many years have I slept?” she inquired. “The whole island seems changed. A new race of beings must have sprung up, leaving only you and me as past relics. How many ages ago did Madame Antoine and Tonie die? And when did our people from Grand Isle disappear from the earth?”
  • “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.” 
  • “A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.”