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The Awakening

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  101,885 ratings  ·  4,199 reviews
A woman seeks love and the fulfillment of her essential nature outside of her stuffy, middle-class marriage. This book shocked the readers of 1899 and paved the way for the modern novel. Three 90-minute cassettes and one 60.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Barnes & Noble (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)
Cece I am currently in the 11th grade writing a critique of this book and I would say yes it is really easy
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kristen
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
(**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
Steve Sckenda
Feb 09, 2015 Steve 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
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.

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
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
Sparrow
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Houston
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
...more
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. ...more
Cheryl
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
...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 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
...more
Dolly
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
...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
Crystal
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.
Heather
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
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
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
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
Kathryn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bruce
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
Mary
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
Megan
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
...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
Cheryl
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
Taylor
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
...more
Nancy
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
Pink
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
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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
More about Kate Chopin...
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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“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.” 217 likes
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