Houston's Reviews > The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
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's review
Nov 13, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended for: everyone
Read in February, 2007

“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 pseudo-intellectual women—super-spiritual superior beings? My wife has been telling me about them.”(p. 91)

“Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife.” (p. 99)

“Conditions would someway adjust themselves, she felt; but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself.” (p. 110)

These quotes sum up for me the difficulty Edna faced as she became herself, or discovered herself. The book is her journey, inward and then outward as well, to finding who she is and how she wants to be. I love the image of ‘daily casting aside’ her old self like a ‘garment.’ Of course, the trouble was that her husband and the men around him all thought that she was losing her mind. The Doctor even accuses the husband of being too lenient. Blame is directed not only at the husband, but also at other women, unnamed ‘pseudo-intellectual’ women. These men cannot understand or explain Edna’s behavior or change in attitude. At this time, and even now, women struggle to gain independence from the role of wife and mother. Trying to figure out where the self is within the confines of those roles, and how to manage the three successfully is still difficult. The last quote is so strong, Edna finally recognizing that she owns herself, that she is not property—not just someone’s wife, mother or even lover or friend—she is her own person and she grows stronger, finding her resolve. This resolve is what leads her to her final decision, becoming absolutely her own person to the exclusion of any other role. The end is somewhat disturbing, though poetic. The struggle between Edna and her environment, her time and those around her—her inner struggles—all seem to lead her to that final point of no return.
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04/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Alyssa Well said. I'm also glad you have the same edition as me...I'm using some of those quotes for a response paper. Right now, actually.

Houston Glad I could help! I just taught this book in my 11th grade English class and it went pretty well. I had them use quotes and images to create a hand-bound book of collages as a response to the text.

Jason i appreciate the bit from page 79 that you have quoted here, as we all seem to have the tendency to cloak ourselves with an image that we feel the world expects to see...

the rest is hard for me to identify with seeing as I am not an oppressed female, nor do I feel that I am an oppressive male. I do agree of course that women have been abused, misunderstood and unheard ... however this portrayal is far more dramatic than I have seen in my lifetime

Jenny i loved that quote (p79). I think you've nailed what i loved about it. Many women, even these days, feel similarly. This novel could have been written without the love affair with Robert. He was the impetus for her awakening, but it doesn't have to be so. It can simply be waking up the the fact that you have been living your life for someone elses expectations for too long. It is possible to continue in a marriage, after an awakening, while still remaining true to yourself, which makes the ending so sad and unnecessary.

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