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The Awakening

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  166,957 ratings  ·  7,246 reviews
When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin's daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the confines of her domestic situation.

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Paperback, 195 pages
Published 2006 by Elibron Classics (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)
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)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  166,957 ratings  ·  7,246 reviews


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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
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Meredith Holley
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
Brother Odd
May 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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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
James
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
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, seei
...more
Sanjina
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Whitney Atkinson
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.
Jr Bacdayan
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If a woman decides out of whim to shun the familial responsibilities of motherhood and wife and become a servant to her passing senses – she should be rebuked. If a man does it – he should be rebuked all the same. Any person regardless of gender, age, or social standing who demonstrate such irresponsibility deserves their chastisement.

I have read a lot of varying responses to this novel and a good deal of them criticizes this book for the selfish irresponsibility of its flawed heroine. And make
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Lisa
"Not Waving But Drowning!"

Edna doesn't want to belong to anyone but herself. She wants to be free to choose her life and love with a passion not directed by society's expectations. She will not give up the essence of her soul to anyone or anything and that ultimately destroys her spirit - for lover and husband and family all have the same idea of a woman's place in the world: she "belongs" to them like a possession. She can be given up or traded or protected as if she was a tool or a piece of j
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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
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Houston
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Michael
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
A once-controversial novella about marital infidelity, The Awakening considers the devastating emotional toll of the constraints of Victorian womanhood. The story follows Edna Pontellier, a would-be artist trapped in a loveless marriage, as she pursues illicit romance and financial independence in the face of suffocating social disapproval. The more distant Edna becomes from her husband and children, the more awakened she feels to life’s possibilities and the richer her inner life becomes; at th ...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
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 then m
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
The Awakening is a novel by Kate Chopin, first published in 1899. Set in New Orleans and on the Louisiana Gulf coast at the end of the 19th century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle between her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century American South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women's issues without condescension. It prefigures the works o
...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Frona
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Adina
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Alison
Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Warwick
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
As Angela Carter says somewhere, it would be a long time before a woman in literature could fuck who she wanted without punishment, as she had in Chaucer.

Edna Pontellier is a fine American example of the genre – landed with a husband who looks at her ‘as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property’, and surrounded by a social circle consisting mainly of ‘women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and gr
...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.
MihaElla
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not very convinced on the full awakening-partially,yes- but a substitute for the novel's title might be 'On the shortness of life' (Seneca). This is a (very) sorry story, from start to end, and definitely, quite predictable, back then as to present times. This is not a memoir or an autobiography (from what I read regarding the author there might be certain similarities with her real life), notwithstanding, during the entire reading course, my mind seemed frozen on a short text from the intro ...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
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 G
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
May 05, 2009 added it
Shelves: fiction
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
Ivana Books Are Magic
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Awakening is certainly an important novel. Published in 1899, this novel was a forerunner in many ways. Undoubtedly, Chopin crafted one of the early works of feminism, when she wrote the story of Edna, a young woman experiencing ‘awakening’. By creating a literary heroine who is undergoing spiritual, psychological, emotional and sexual awakening, Chopin challenged not only the social views of her time, but social identity as such. Moreover, I do believe that The Awakening is neither reserved ...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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