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The Awakening

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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  138,476 Ratings  ·  5,734 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, Second Edition, 336 pages
Published September 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1899)
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Lorelai Berry I believe it is a feminist text, because it questions gender roles. Sometimes what happens in the end isn't as important as what happens on the way.…moreI believe it is a feminist text, because it questions gender roles. Sometimes what happens in the end isn't as important as what happens on the way. This book is about the journey. (less)
Susan Coffey to paraphrase sparknotes, the "lady in black" represents widowhood, Edna is longing for independence and freedom, in Victorian times becoming a widow…moreto paraphrase sparknotes, the "lady in black" represents widowhood, Edna is longing for independence and freedom, in Victorian times becoming a widow was the only socially acceptable way of gaining independence via freedom from marriage. "The lovers" represent Edna and Robert and the life they may have had if circumstances were different, the lady in black is juxtaposed with "the lovers" to implicate an inevitable failure of the relationship.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kristen
Jul 05, 2011 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
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
Elizabeth
Jun 11, 2007 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
Brother Odd
May 01, 2008 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
Mar 08, 2009 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
James
Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I read this book several years ago and wrote a paper on how society treated women during that period in literature. I cut and paste some from it below, as I think it offers more than a normal review on this one. Please keep in mind, I'm referring to women in the 19th century, i.e. the characters from the book -- not thoughts on women today! As for the book -- it's fantastic... love seeing what people thought 150 years ago, seeing some
...more
Sanjina
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew
This review is being posted mainly because of the awesome backstory. I actually had to read this twice in high school and didn't care for it much either time.

But, here comes my great story!

When I was a sophomore in high school I went out with this girl who eventually dumped me and gave the reason that she was only going out with me until the guy she really liked showed interest in her. A real downer!

Fast forward to senior year . . .

I was in theater and I just so happened to do shows at the all g
...more
Whitney Atkinson
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, feminism
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 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
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.
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
Lynne King

This is a work about a rather unusual woman, Edna Montpellier who lives in New Orleans with her husband Léonce, a rather successful businessman, and their two children, Etienne and Raoul. Part of the book is also based on their vacation in Grand Isle on the Gulf of Mexico.

The scene is soon set as Edna is beginning to feel unsettled after six years of a rather bland marriage to an older man and feels that there is something lacking in her life. An incident then occurs that soon sets her on a cour
...more
Perry
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sexual Satiation & Independence vs. Satisfaction of Repressing Demands of a Southern Society Patterned on Culture of Victorian England

Sensate, if you will, Grand Isle, Louisiana, USA, 1899:

Salty, muggy air creeping off a windless and glittering gulf, white wooden chairs posing in the antique, misty elegance of a large veranda, blinds half-drawn at sundown to corrugated silhouettes, and a laced corset honeycombed by dimming sunlight.


Edna Pontellier was raised a Protestant in rural Kentucky th
...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
Frona
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sea, sun, bathing and loose summer rules form a recipe for a respite. Warm and welcoming environment, shaped by people with different predispositions gathered under the same soothing conditions, lighten the protagonist's manners. Her senses, before entangled beyond recognition, suddenly soften and let the melodies, smells and shapes in. Adjustments within her, long having been guided by society's calls, now slowly, but steadily, change course. In awakening to the stimulants and novelties the pro ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison
Jun 17, 2007 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
Adina
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short, classics
I do not feel like reviewing this novel/novella, whatever it is... I will just say that these kind of books made me have problems with my literature course and run away from most of the "classics". Although the books were written by Romanian authors I recognize the type. I came to my senses after joining GR and I now try to gain the lost time by reading the books that I should have covered earlier in my life. Until now the results were satisfying as I am on my way of becoming a big fan of Victor ...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 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
Connie
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Carol
Apr 24, 2013 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
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
Erin
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman. The mother-women seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.

Wait, isn't this something that we would read in O magazine these d
...more
Liz Janet
Jan 07, 2014 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
Crystal
Jan 15, 2008 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.
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
Alex
Aug 03, 2015 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
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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.” 2721 likes
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.” 315 likes
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