Chopin, The Awakening Essay, Research Paper
Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”
The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, tells the story of a woman, Edna
Pontellier, who transforms herself from an obedient housewife to a person who is alive
with strength of character and emotions which she no longer has to repress or be shaped
by her surroundings. Her behavior is more shocking and horrifying because of her
position in society and it is that very position which causes her to feel restrained and
makes her yearn to rebel.
Adele Ratignolle is Edna’s close friend and confidante, but the two women are
nothing alike. Adele could not understand how Edna could say that she “would never
sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone”. Edna’s being is taking on a new
importance in her life and she is starting to realize just how important it is to be true to
herself. She has never done that before because she always went along with the way things
were supposed to be, holding her socials and tending to her house until she became aware
that she needs more from her life.
Edna’s marriage to Leonce is safe, but there is no passion or excitement. “She
grew fond of her husband, realizing with some unaccountable satisfaction that no trace of
passion or excessive and fictitious warmth colored her affection, thereby threatening its
dissolution” . While this lack of emotion is enough to satisfy Edna for the majority of her
marriage, she begins to allow her true self to come forth because she feels trapped and
seeks a way to escape. She realizes that she needs intrigue and flavor in her marriage,
especially, in her life which seems to be suffocating her. Leonce cannot understand that
she does not fit the mold of the typical Creole woman.
The person whom Edna truly admires is Mademoiselle Reiz, who is a brilliant
pianist, though, her talent is somewhat lost on the other people on the island. They cannot
appreciate her artistry as does Edna because Mademoiselle Reiz does not fit their idea of
what a proper woman should be; she is eccentric and bold. Her music touches Edna to the
very core of her being and stirs up something inside of her that makes her feel alive like
never before in her life. Edna respects Mademoiselle Reiz because she has the courage to
be different and It is Mademoiselle’s music that starts to “awaken” Edna and allows her to
see the beauty and passion in life.
An amazing transformation takes place in Edna throughout the course of a few
months and the people with whom she interacts and the culture in which she is submersed
play a significant role in her “awakening.” Edna is able to break away from the restraining
world of Adele and Leonce in which she will never find her place. Stirred by the magic and
intrigue of Mademoiselle Reiz’s world, she finds the strength to reach for that which is real
for her, and she allows her true being to shine.