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The Awakening

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  191,481 ratings  ·  9,118 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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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 3.67  · 
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 ·  191,481 ratings  ·  9,118 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
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
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
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
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Awakening, Kate Chopin

The Awakening is a novel by Kate Chopin, first published in 1899.

The Awakening 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 prefigur
...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
emma
assigned reading is good, actually.

probably i never would have thought to pick up this novella from a million years ago unless i had once been made to read it, but not done so really, and ultimately felt a lasting low-level guilt that would motivate me to revisit it 6 years later.

and that was an enjoyable scenario by and large, so.

this is my argument.

anyway. this is a good feminist text. it's not as magically still equally relevant as a room of one's own, nor is it as charming or funny or beauti
...more
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.
...more
Sanjina
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
...more
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
...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
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
Houston
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
“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
Perry
Sexual Suppression in Fin de siècle Southern Society

Grand Isle, Louisiana, 1899. I can imagine it. The muggy salt air creeps off a windless glittering gulf. White wooden chairs pose in the antique, misty elegance of a large veranda. Blinds half-drawn at sundown to corrugated silhouettes, as the dimming sunlight honeycombs a laced corset.

Edna Pontellier was raised Protestant in rural Kentucky then married into a Catholic, French Creole family in New Orleans. She was completely unprepared for the
...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
HOW NOT TO HELP A NOVEL READER

He looked at Edna's book, which he had read; and he told her the end, to save her the trouble of wading through it, he said.

ORIGINALITY IS NOT THE POINT HERE

If you piled up all the novels about marital infidelity you would… well, you’d need a team of assistants with engineering skills and probably ninja powers, plus some hang gliding experts when the extendable ladders reached their limit, and then a lot of expensive final assistance from the NASA International Spa
...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
MihaElla
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 ...more
Roman Clodia
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first time in her life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her.

Written in 1899, this is the radical story of a married woman's 'awakening', not just to sexual desire ('It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire') but also to a sense of self-hood ('But I don't want anything but my own way') and independence ('I am no longer one of Mr
...more
Chavelli Sulikowska
…‘there was nothing subtle or hidden about her charms; her beauty was all there, flaming and apparent…’

Another book that I had heard so much about and finally got around to reading. This is a really unusual story. Not much happens, but it is exceptionally captivating and I can see why it always features on all the “Must Read Before You Die Lists” and Top 100s... Chopin’s best known work is a deeply insightful dive into a young woman’s restlessness and disquietude in her marriage. Meet Mrs. Ponte
...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
Katie Lumsden
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly amazing - a fascinating exploration of gender and marriage in late 19th century American society, compelling and thought-provoking and beautifully written.
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
JimZ
Aug 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting and time of this novel is News Orleans, 1899. A married wife with two children feels trapped by her situation (free to be nothing more than a caring mother and obedient wife who has to play by society’s rules). One night her husband seems to command her to do something, and she snaps…how dare he talk that way. Her husband is not really a bad man, but he just comes to expect his wife to better his lot in life and attend afternoon teas and such…her father who is a retired Confederate c ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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 require
...more
Alison
Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
"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
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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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