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The Awakening

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  98,222 ratings  ·  4,017 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, 336 pages
Published September 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1899)
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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)

Community Reviews

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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
(**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
Brother Odd
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.


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
Feb 14, 2014 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Sensitive to Despondent Seekers of Freedom
A woman awakens. Edna Pontellier, like Eve, awakens to the knowledge of desire--she awakens to the knowledge that she is not free. Before the end, she awakens to the knowledge that freedom will be expensive but resolves to pay the price. “The artist must possess the brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.” Patriots warn us that -- “freedom isn’t free!” Kate Chopin tested the limits of our acceptance of the consequences of that slogan in the dilemma of Edna Pontellier, who lives in New Orlea ...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Nov 13, 2007 Houston rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
“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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is an important late Victorian fictional account of a 28 year old woman in a traditional marriage with children who becomes aware of the restraints upon her by family and society. She acknowledges her negative feelings, separates from the sources, and becomes herself.

Psychologically powerful, the novel palpates with truths about the process of selfhood. Brillant insights, beautifully rendered, highlighting the costs of thinking your own thoughts beyond the accepted norm and memorable for th
Jan 02, 2010 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jul 11, 2007 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
May 23, 2008 Crystal rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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,
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For such an initially simple and straightforward story this seems well and intriguingly written, conveying initial stirrings of dissatisfaction and desire, the sense that life is less than it might be, that one should be able to have and achieve more, not so much in terms of material objects as in terms of self-actualization, human flourishing, what Aristotle called eudaemonia. Life for Edna is not all that she had hoped it would be, not what she senses that it can be, and she feels limited and ...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
Chopin's work The Awakening, despite its age is still relevant to women as a reminder from where we have come. This was a re-read, the first many years ago when it was often cited in the new stages of feminism as one of the first feminist novels. I am not sure if that is wholly accurate but it was a breakout piece at the time it was written. I thought it was a good time to read this again as it seems there are so many issues that directly effect women in the current cultural dialogue. It is the ...more
Skylar Burris
This book is considered a classic partly, I think, because it is considered to be one of the earliest feminist novels. It seems to me to have a lot more to do with the contrast between two cultures, Anglo and Creole. I guess it must be a feminist novel, though, because the main character engages in a profound and courageous assault on the domineering patriarchal establishment: she gets bored with her average life to her mostly decent husband, commits adultery, and then kills herself. How liberat ...more
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
People, I think, often confuse the character of the protagonist for the quality of the book and its importance. Yes, she was a spoiled little rich girl, yes she made poor decisions, but her importance was that she made those choices, and it is for that alone is this book important. I think that Chopin was far more skilled in writing shorts than novels (although I have not read At Fault), but the essence of thought is there, and all too often an audience confuses an author for the story's charact ...more
First published in 1899, The Awakening was controversial for it's portrayal of a woman's sexual desires and wish to live a life different from what is socially accepted. Apparently this novel was rediscovered in the 1960's and since has been considered a feminist classic.

This is a fairly quick read with features the spiritual awakening of Mrs. Edna Pontellier as she discovers that she wants more in life than to be a wife and a mother. Although life for women was so much more restrictive in thos
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
It is nineteenth-century New Orleans. Twenty-something-year-old Edna Pontellier is realizing that she does not want to be a wife or mother--at a time when women are seen as property. Edna takes a vacation with her controlling, albeit very successful husband, Mr. Pontellier (I don't recall his first name ever being used...) to the Gulf of Mexico where she suddenly finds her heart's desires?...Ok, maybe more like where she discovers herself. She goes from dutiful to insolent, from loyal to self-fu ...more
Books like this make me both angry and happy. They make me upset, because I hate that there was a time when women and men weren't considered equals, but they make me happy because somebody had to point the finger and say "this is fucked up," and Kate Chopin was unafraid to do just that.

When we first started reading this book in my frosh year literature course at Hofstra, I was pissing and bitching and moaning about it. I was not remotely interested in reading it. But I plowed on, knowing that it
Bravo! I was very won over by this. I only held back in rating it a five because I thought it occasionally melodramatic, but then people can be naturally and sincerely melodramatic, so I shouldn't hold that against Chopin and the stakes were so much greater than they are now, yet the story still resonates so much with me. Inspiring and thought-provoking, over a century later. What a feat that is. I see why this is timeless, though it's so sad to think of how it's outlives New Orleans itself. I t ...more
Nenia Campbell

Protagonist: I am a feminist.


Pro: I am in a sad marriage.

Me: D:

Pro: I can do better, though!

Me: Yes, yes you can!

Pro: This doesn't have to be the life I choose!

Me: *stands up from chair* No, it doesn't! You ro-


Me: *collapses in chair* What? Now just a sec-




Me: I realllllly hope you don'
I have never read a book that has left me with such mixed feelings. Talk about wrangling with demons. Writing this review has been like that for me as well, very mixed. We modern women take for granted that we have a choice with our thoughts and deeds that aren't dictated by the male figure in our lives, be it a father, brother, husband or male confessor, that we don't realize that women 100 years ago didn't have that choice. A lot of reviews on this book seem to focus on the fact that Edna isn' ...more
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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 Story of an Hour and Other Stories The Awakening and Selected Stories Desiree's Baby The Awakening and Other Stories A Pair of Silk Stockings and Other Short Stories

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