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The Awakening

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  122,977 Ratings  ·  5,119 Reviews
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 threated t ...more
Paperback, 343 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Bedford Books (first published 1899)
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Popular Answered Questions

Trey Yes and no. While the book explores themes of self-discovery, independence, and the role of women in society it is also critical of irrational action…moreYes and no. While the book explores themes of self-discovery, independence, and the role of women in society it is also critical of irrational action and abandoning family. It depends on the reader and the lens the book itself is viewed through.

It is lauded by some students and teachers (and commentators) as a feminist masterpiece. Others would pin it as satire or a critique of feminism. Regardless, it's an interesting story. Chopin is no Chekhov, but it's pretty entertaining and makes one think.(less)
Mary Yeah it takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kristen
Jul 08, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, kindle
Why so many ugly one star reviews? All about as insightful as the ubiquitous one star reviews of Lolita which call Nabokov the man a child molester, raving morons who can't distinguish a character from an author and go beyond simply missing the point. And how ironic that all these reviews seem to be from women raging that this book (which they all obviously read for their 'gender theory' class) features a character who abandons her children. Ugh, women who criticize this as a feminist novel beca ...more
Elizabeth
May 04, 2011 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(**SPOILERS in the comments**)

One of the earliest sleep-with-whoever-you-want feminist rhetoric books. I think much of what feminists fought for and accomplished was vital for protecting women. Women have never lived with such freedom. I stand behind many of the advances. This book, however, as part of the general 60’s feminist philosophy(not the major thinking of the early feminists), I believe has had a destructive effect. Instead of promoting a philosophy that men should be more honest about
...more
Samadrita
Often I have witnessed women, who proceed to talk about misogyny, sexism, or state their views on a piece of feminist literature, starting their discourse with something along the lines of 'I'm not much of a feminist...but'. As if it is best to put a considerable distance between themselves and this feared word at the onset and deny any possible links whatsoever. As if calling herself a feminist automatically degrades a woman to the position of a venom-spewing, uncouth, unfeminine, violent creat ...more
Brother Odd
Jan 08, 2010 Brother Odd rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to give this book ZERO stars, but it's not an option. This is hands down the worst book that I've ever read. I will never say that again in a review, because this one wins that prize.

BIG SPOILER AHEAD - Be warned.

I had to read this thing twice in college, and it is a horrible story. We are supposed to feel sympathy for a selfish woman with no redeemable qualities. Just because her marriage is bad it does not give her the right to be a lousy, despicable person. Get a divorce? Yes. Find n
...more
Sparrow
Jun 09, 2013 Sparrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kelly
In a hearing I observed once, the husband testified that he had tried to have his wife served with his petition for divorce in the Costco parking lot. The wife went running across the parking lot to avoid service, and her eight- and ten-year-old kids ran after her, dodging traffic and jumping into the wife’s car as it screeched out of the parking spot. The husband filmed them on his iPhone, shouting, “You’ve been served! You’ve been served!”

The judge commented that it was troubling to watch a v
...more
Sanjina
Feb 20, 2008 Sanjina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barry Pierce
Even though the entire plot of this novel can be summed up as, "woman sits around and does nothing while having feminine thoughts", there is a resounding beauty in its monotony. The Awakening is a quick and affecting novel (especially with that ending). While I do think that it may be slightly subject to over-hype, there is no contesting its importance as an early feminist work. And on that account, I would recommend it.
Whitney Atkinson
Nov 06, 2015 Whitney Atkinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
WOW

probably the most beautifully written book i've ever read, plus so much feminism it makes me weak. I adore this book and I am going to be buying my own copy soon so that i can reread and reread and reread it until I die.
Houston
Nov 13, 2007 Houston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
“It sometimes entered Mr. Pontillier’s mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”(p. 79)

“What have you been doing to her, Pontillier?”
“Doing! Parbleu!”
“Has she,” asked the Doctor, with a smile, “has she been associating of late with a circle of pseud
...more
Stephanie
The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a beautifully written work describing a woman's search for her own self-identity.

Set in 1890's New Orleans, a restrictive type of society with definitive expectations, the place of the upper-middle class Créole woman is in the home taking care of her husband and her children. Unfortunately, there is not room in that society for a woman to have another area of focus, enabling self-fulfillment.

As this is a classic work, and several more educated folks than myself h
...more
Kelly
“It may all sound very petty to complain about, but I tell you that sort of thing settles down on one like a fine dust.”
-Warner, Lolly Willowes

This book is an early distillation of a particular kind of novel that was being written periodically throughout the early twentieth century. These novels are all variations on the same theme, but the basic outline is the same. This one will serve to give you a pretty good idea of the lot:

Edna Pontellier is the rather well-to-do wife of a New Orleans busin
...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison
Jan 02, 2010 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists
"But they need not thought that they could possess her, body and soul."

If there ever was a Feminist Manifesto, it truly is Kate Chopin's "The Awakening."

Edna Pontellier is a 28-year-old wife and mother in New Orleans, 1900. Her husband is well-off, and Edna's days consist of watching the nanny take care of her two young boys, scolding the cook over bad soup, giving and attending champagne-filled dinner parties, and receiving formal calls from high society New Orleans ladies on Tuesdays. Also, t
...more
Scarlet
That moment when you read a book so good, you want to lie awake all night and ruminate on it.

Review to come for sure, but it might take a few days - there are too many thoughts somersaulting in my head and I don't think they'll settle anytime soon.
Dolly
Jul 11, 2007 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women older than 25
Kate Chopin wrote this story of female self-actualization back in the late 19th century, but it's as applicable today as it was then. I think we all feel trapped by decisions we've made capriciously, and we all consider, even briefly, escape. The main character in this novel not only realizes that she has trapped herself, but she actively seeks to free herself. Her action, rather than just emotion and despair (a la Goethe), is what separates her from the herd.

Here's the low-down: Edna is a woman
...more
Sherwood Smith
It's interesting to read an end-of-the-century novel from the opposite side of the intervening twentieth century, for though there is in Chopin's novel no preoccupation with the remorseless cycle of measured time, the intervening hundred years--and all their evolutions, both cultural and literary--are going to be part of the modern reader's context.

Be aware: this is somewhat spoilery.

As the novel unfolds, it is very difficult to like Edna Pontellier. In these days of two paychecks being requir
...more
Chrissie
Here is another book that surprised me. I did not like the writing style at the beginning, but by the end I liked exactly that, the writing, very much. The writing is descriptive, right from the beginning, but when it starts not only the places and scenes are described, but also we are told the personality traits of the involved characters. Here is the classical problem of being "told rather than shown". After the initial presentation of the characters, only then do we begin to observe them. At ...more
Connie
Published in 1899, "The Awakening" is a story revolving around personal and sexual freedom for women. The book was set in New Orleans and nearby coastal areas where women--and any property they accumulated after marriage--were considered the property of their husbands. Divorce was almost non-existent in that Catholic area.

Edna and Leonce Pontellier are vacationing at a coastal resort with their two little sons. Leonce is a generous husband in material ways, but does not connect well emotionally
...more
Carol
Jun 13, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: Jean
A loveless marriage + two children + a life of leisure = a bored woman who no longer wants to be a submissive wife. Throbbing with an uncontrollable desire for the handsome Robert, 29 year old Edna decides to change her life.....resulting in an unfortunate outcome.

Beautifully written and first published in 1899 this short classic tale of a woman's independence and unorthodox decisions caused a stir with the critics and people of the time causing the novel to be banished for decades afterward....

...more
Liz BooksandStuff
May 03, 2016 Liz BooksandStuff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
“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.”

I read this book during my senior year of high school, and I am grateful for that, because without all the analyzing and discussion, I would not have been able to understand it an
...more
Bam
#2106-usa-geography-challenge: LOUISIANA

Sad to say, marital unhappiness, infidelity and divorce are no longer shocking. There are as many reasons as there are troubled marriages. Women who married young may find themselves stifled in a loveless marriage, one that both parties have outgrown. Perhaps they stay together merely for the sake of the children. A choice might have been made to become a wife and mother and leave behind the dream of an exciting life that might have been. But a backward gl
...more
Crystal
May 23, 2008 Crystal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Crystal by: Michelle Fendrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fiona
Does anyone really grow out of crushing on people? You're going to turn around and tell me you have, now, aren't you - that it's years since you had one, you can't even remember when it was, although you vaguely remember who it was.

I'm not like that. I crush constantly; on people I know, people I don't, people out of my own imagination. They last anything from a few months to a few years, and I never admit them to anyone, during or afterwards. I keep a list in my diary, intermittently; there's a
...more
Heather
Sep 06, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few of my all time favorite excerpts are from this book ...

When Mlle Reisz asks Edna why she loves him, when she shouldn't and she says:

"...Because his hair is brown and grows away from his temples; because he opens and shuts his eyes, and his nose is a little out of drawing; because he has two lips and a square chin, and a little finger which he can't straighten from having played baseball too energetically in his youth. Because '"

"Because you do, in short."

And ... "...when I left her today,
...more
Alex
Aug 03, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Bear with me: when I watched the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven I felt like Eastwood was ending an entire genre. This is tired, said Clint, its beats are tired, its cliches are tired, there's nothing more for it to say, I'm gonna give you one last great Western and that's enough, okay? And the movie had such overwhelming eulogic power that it almost succeeded.

(It didn't, of course, but it was years before anyone dared to make another one.)

And I got the same feeling from The Awakening. I felt th
...more
Pink
Feb 09, 2014 Pink rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blimey, I didn't see that end coming...

This was an early feminist work, about a woman's struggles against conformity of society and married life. Written in 1899, it wasn't recognised as any sort of feminist work until much later, though I think it is still little heard of today.

I read this for a feminist group choice and I'm glad to have discovered it. There were elements that reminded me of Madame Bovary, with the main character feeling unsatisfied with her seemingly comfortable married life.
...more
Linds
This is supposedly a milestone in feminist literature. It's important on a historical level, but it was impossible for me to for me to get this book. The "heroine" Edna is naive at best, and a selfish spoiled brat at worst.

I love historical romance novels set during the 1800's. While those books are fun, I realize that this situation was much more realistic. Women were married to men they were very distant to and trapped in a world of ennui and as the author put it, a "quiet, vague anguish." I
...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
Set in the late 1800's this is a beautifully written, gentle book about the awakening of a woman to a side of herself she had never suspected existed.

Edna married her businessman husband Leonce "quite by accident" when he fell madly in love with her. He appears to be a good husband, provides well for his wife and family, but is quite controlling, his life, and therefore Edna's, dictated by the social mores of the time.

She has had a slightly unorthodox upbringing and holds some radical views on m
...more
Cait • A Page With a View
Ok I've been bashing enough classics that I was forced to read in English class that I wanted to find one I adored. This book completely floored me in high school... so unexpected and haunting. The writing is amazing and I can still picture so many of the scenes. I didn't think of it as feminist at the time I read it or really consider it "an agenda" that she wanted to be valued and deviate from the expected social norm. But yeah, I suppose it is a strong piece of feminist work.

And you don't ha
...more
Richard Derus
Feb 17, 2014 Richard Derus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My 1.5-star review is here.

Still not posting any monetizabe data on Goodreads.
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Kate Chopin was an American novelist and short-story writer best known for her startling 1899 novel, The Awakening. Born in St. Louis, she moved to New Orleans after marrying Oscar Chopin in 1870. Less than a decade later Oscar's cotton business fell on hard times and they moved to his family's plantation in the Natchitoches Parish of northwestern Louisiana. Oscar died in 1882 and Kate was suddenl ...more
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“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.” 2200 likes
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.” 277 likes
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