The Awakening

By Kate Chopin, Barbara Kingsolver

177,259 ratings - 3.66* vote

'Introducing this release of The Awakening has given me an opportunity to re-experience one of my life's important books . . . I still marvel at Chopin's realism, her impatience with conventional trappings, her arresting honesty' BARBARA KINGSOLVER'Incisive, brilliant and haunting' MAGGIE O'FARRELLOver one long, languid summer Edna Pontellier, fettered by marriage and moth 'Introducing this release of The Awakening has given me an opportunity to

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Book details

Kindle Edition, 141 pages
August 7th 2014 by Canongate Books

(first published 1899)

Original Title
The Awakening
ISBN
0543898083 (ISBN13: 9780543898081)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

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 because the main character isn't a good mom and then base their ratings solely on how much they like the main character. Do these people only give high ratings to books with characters they like? Do they think women characters in fictional books shouldn't have flaws, ennui, and basically everything that makes a character good? They want the character to be human but lack any flaws, they want her to be a feminist hero but denounce her for not putting her children before herself. Is it that they would have accepted it in a male character but not from a 'wife and mother' because when I read these reviews that is what it looks like to me. Why is she in all those one star reviews held up and judged as a woman and not a human being? Is that not the essence of feminism? If so these dumb broads are the ones who are anti-woman, not Chopin, who wrote this in 1899 for fuck sake!

The whole point of the book is about her discovering herself as an individual, and that even as an individual we exist in a society and as humans have to balance being an individual with the fact we are social animals. Her failure isn't that she abandoned the children but that she abandons herself. If this has a failure as a feminist novel it is the formulaic ending where she is punished for her desires. I'd like to see a story when the woman runs away and is not punished by death, as is the always the ending, now that would be progress!

Not that it's a great book, my few friends who rated it gave in mostly 3 stars, and that's about right, I'm adding an extra star out of spite.

Also, this is my first book read on my new kindle, so that was pretty exciting!

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 girls school where the aforementioned girl went. After a performance (I was Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie), she came up to me and said that she needed to talk to me and that she was interested in me attending prom with her!?? WHAT!?? I hadn't talked to her in a couple of years . . . my mind was blown!

I said yes, but I was skeptical . . .

While at prom she sat me down for "the talk". She said that she felt terrible for what she did to me. She said that while reading The Awakening, she started to realize that I was really good to her and being the place holder for this other guy was not fair to me. *VINDICATED!* She wrote an essay about what she had done to me and how the book had opened her eyes (an awakening, perhaps???). This essay ended up winning some sort of state-wide competition. *Feeling pretty great by this point!*

Epilogue

She came up to me at the end of the prom and asked me if she could leave with another guy who she has been kind of interested in for awhile . . . (you can't make this stuff up!) So, I got my vindication, but history repeated itself - at least I wasn't officially dating her this time!

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 new love? Yes. Abandon your children, be completely self-absorbed, commit adultery, and drown yourself? No, no, no, and no. This is my problem with the book. Drowning oneself and leaving one's children without the guidance of their mother is a tragedy. The book would have you believe it is a triumph. This is the irredeemable flaw in the book.

It is also physically impossible to die the way she did. You cannot float to the bottom of the ocean. Your body will force you to swim and fight. It is a scientific fact that you cannot drown yourself without a struggle. She would have struggled in the end. Yes you can swim out so far that you can't make it back in and would drown in the process. But no, you can't just sink to the bottom. It would be a horrible, gagging, gasping, throwing up salt water, kicking your arms and legs fight.

The writing itself is nothing special. It's not bad. Chopin is not a bad writer on a technical level, but she is no expert either.

I hate to be the one raining on the parade, but this is the most overrated book I have ever come across.

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 things never change and some people are just always wrong! And for the record, I loved Edna... thought she had a right to, and should have, pushed the envelope more.

Question: Edna Pontellier: Does Innocence Prevail?

Society expects women to remain pure and chaste, to ignore the urge to engage in any type of behavior that could be construed as flirtatious, and to follow the demands of their fathers until marriage. However, women see these limitations as too restrictive, which is why they live their lives in a way that suits them and not others. Women often take control of their own lives by participating in flirtatious behaviors, ignoring parental wishes, and engaging in pre-marital sex. When women are married and still wish to live their own lives, they may have extra-marital affairs, they may leave their husbands or lovers, and they may commit suicide. These behaviors are ways of striking out against the unfair limitations placed on them. Often the “desire to be socially functional and acceptable can lead to hostility to those who appear to be unconventional or independent” (Allen 336). As a result of this hostility and striking out, whether or not women are truly innocent has pervaded the minds of American society.

Since the innocence of women has always been a subject that captivates society’s mind, writers will often take advantage of this and create works that are about women’s innocence. The realistic period of literature, from the end of the Civil War to World War I- 1865-1915, contains many works that are representative of women and their level of innocence. In works such as Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899), there are female characters whose innocence comes into question. Edna Pontellier lives her life in such an ambiguously flirtatious way that the people from the society in which they live, all question the women’s innocence and morality. Edna is somewhat guilty, although she has an excuse. Edna is just entering her womanhood for the first time at a time when views were quite different than today. She may lose her innocence with several men, but she never knew what innocence was prior to her sexual awakening. Regardless of Edna’s actions, she is still innocent even though her flirtatious behavior implies that she isn’t. After she faces society’s wrath, she turns inwardly to find support instead of turning to the people around her. After thinking about her future, Edna meanders down the path of self-destruction and commits suicide, as a way to get out of the misery that she is in. When her innocence appears to be lost, she chooses to take her own life, rather than fight to show society that she has done nothing wrong. However, she never really loses her innocence permanently, as it was only hidden under her awakening to womanhood.

In The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, Edna Pontellier, a young, married woman is also removed from her usual American home to that of the French Creole society in New Orleans, Louisiana. Even though the story still takes place in America, the French Creole society is more European than American. It expects the people that live there to follow European beliefs about women, innocence, and sexuality. Edna has been married to Leonce Pontellier for several years and they have two sons also. They spend their summer vacations on an island off the coast of Louisiana during the summers, not that far from the mainland where they usually live. Edna grew up with a father who expected her to follow his rules as perfectly as possible. He was a “hypocritical, gambling, toddy-drinking, pious-talking Presbyterian [from Kentucky]” (Skaggs 98). His interpretation of religion was to be irreconcilable during the week, and then atone for it on Sundays at worship. Edna thus became two separate souls within her own body. She wanted to be pious and good which explains why she remained married to Leonce in a loveless marriage for nearly ten years. However, she also had a passionate, wild side to her which suddenly erupted after she met Robert Lebrun on the Grand Isle. According to James H. Justus, the imbalance which haunts Edna is within the self, and the dilemma is resolved in terms of her psychic compulsions. Caught between conflicting urgencies-her need to succumb to her sensuality is countered by an equal need for a freedom that is almost anarchic” (Justus 73).

Edna Pontellier is bored with her husband, her life of motherhood and housekeeping upon her return to the mainland. She also wants to be free to do whatever she chooses instead of being chained to her husband. She enjoys the attention that she gets from Robert and finds the young man quite attractive. Once started, “Edna makes no attempt to suppress her sexual desire, she does not hesitate to throw off her traditional duties towards her family. She realizes she is unable to live as the inessential adjunct to man, as the object over which man rules” (Seyersted 62). As a result, “Edna Pontellier has her first affair out of sexual hunger, without romantic furbelow. She is in love, but the young man she loves has left New Orleans” (Kauffmann, 59). Edna Pontellier is an adulterer, but one can forgive her because she was thrown into a marriage that she was not ready for after living by her father’s rule for so many years. Edna never had a chance to grow up as a woman. As a result, she is forced to suppress her sexuality, and it comes out full force during her summer vacation with the Lebruns.

Nevertheless, Edna and Robert’s affair has a positive influence on Edna’s life. Carley Rees Bogarad believes that “Edna’s desire for the first time in her life is directed at someone who returns it and who has been fulfilling her emotional needs. She finally has evidence from the way Robert has been treating her and from her own emerging sense of self that she might choose to live in a more meaningful, constructive and active way. She does not lose her sense of responsibility; she redefines it” (160). However, Edna loses Robert when he leaves the country, and she is forced to return home with her husband and two children where her life becomes monotonous and dull without Robert. Later, She meets Alcee Arobin, who reminds her of Robert in some ways. Edna and Arobin also begin an affair with each other. This time, “Edna enjoys the company because [Arobin] is a charming man, attentive, amusing, a person of the world. He is a sexual partner who does not ask for, expect, or give love. Consequently, Edna need not feel that she is compromising him because she loves another. What she slowly discovers is that there is no way to separate what the body does from what the mind or heart is feeling without creating a violation of self (Bogarad 160). Edna definitely seems as though she has no morals by this time. She couldn’t care any less about her family; all Edna wants to do is explore her new found sexual awakening. She is viewed negatively for this among society; Yet, in reality, “the men in her life split her-Robert sees her as the angel, and Alcee sees her as the whore” (Bogarad 160).

Edna Pontellier is a victim of fate, and cannot be faulted for that. She can’t help but be awakened sexually, which leads to her numerous affairs with Robert and Alcee. After moving out of the house and living on her own, in the way that she wants to, Edna slowly dwindles down to nothing. She loses her husband, Robert, and Alcee. Robert briefly returns and it seems as though he and Edna will reunite, but they don’t. Instead, Edna’s awakened feelings and lifeline diminish her. Spangler remarks that “in the final pages, Edna is different . . . she is no longer purposeful, merely willful: no longer liberated, merely perverse: no longer justified, merely spiteful” (Spangler 155). In the end, Edna is left barren and desolate. She wanders out to the sea, strips off her clothes, and jumps in to her death. According to Spangler, “Chopin surrounds Edna’s death with contradictory symbols of defeat and rebirth. This makes it difficult to assess the meaning of Edna’s final act and accounts for the various readings proposed. There is also the further complication that it is not clear whether Edna’s death is consciously chosen suicide or whether it, like much else in Edna’s life, is simply drifted into” (156). Edna’s tragic end leaves readers wondering what her purpose was. Edna could represent women who are “‘perversely attracted to forbidden fruit’ [and for women that] want to possess [which] forms only destructive relationships rather than those that [are] true and lasting’ (Roscher 292). All that the readers can infer is that “her actions and final suicide suggest that she is a woman whose will and determination force her ‘to go her own way’; but a closer look at Edna shows that she is not a character who rejects a society in ‘thought and act’ . . .” (Portales 431). Edna Pontellier may have had some affairs, but she still remains innocent in some ways. She never knew what love was when she married Leonce. She had been influenced by her father and assumed that she would fall in love with Leonce once they got married. Nevertheless, Edna tries unsuccessfully, so she then determines to just have a good time, but she falls for Robert and enters into a relationship with him - perhaps the first one when their is requited love between the two. Edna cannot be blamed for losing her innocence therefore, since she didn’t have it when she was married. She didn’t even know what it was to not have innocence at that time. Edna suffered at the hand so fate and her father. She rarely had control of her own life.

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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 of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and echoes the works of contemporaries such as Edith Wharton, and Henry James.

It can also be considered among the first Southern works in a tradition that would culminate with the modern masterpieces of Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, and Tennessee Williams.

‎The awakening and other stories, ‎Kate Chopin; edited by Nina Baym; introducton by Kaye Gibbons‬, ‎New York‬: ‎The Modern Library‬, ‎2000 = 1379‬. 375 p.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش نسخه انگلیسی: روز یازدهم ماه آگوست سال 2014 میلادی

عنوان: بیداری؛ نویسنده: کیت شوپن؛ برگردان: ماهان سیار‌منش؛ رشت دوات معاصر‏‫، 1397؛ در 210ص؛ شابک 9786009989133؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 19م‬

رمان «بیداری» نوشته ی روانشاد بانو «کیت شوپن» است، که نخستین بار در سال 1899میلادی منتشر شده است؛ داستان درباره ی زندگی «ادنا»، و کشمکشهای ایشان، بر سر اندیشه های غیرعادی، درباره ی زنانگی، و مادر بودن است.؛ کتاب یکی از نخستین رمانهای آمریکایی ست، که بر مشکلات زنان تمرکز میکند، و از سویی، در دیدگاه اندیشورزان، نقطه ی آغازینی، برای برابری زنان و مردان، به شمار میآید.؛

داستان با «ادنا» آغاز میشود، او با خانواده اش، برای گذران تعطیلات، به جزایر «گرند» رفته اند.؛ در آنجا «ادنا»، به مرد جوانی به نام «رابرت لبران» نزدیک میشود، اما پیش از اینکه با هم رابطه داشته باشند، «رابرت» به «مکزیک» میرود.؛ «ادنا» بدون «رابرت»، احساس تنهایی میکند، اما چیزی نمیگذرد، که به خانه ی خویش در «نیو اورلینز» برمیگردند، و ایشان دوست پسری برای خودش پیدا میکند....؛ فیلم «گرند آیزل» نیز با الهام از این رمان ساخته شده است.؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

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.

Sanjina

I guess I can understand why The Awakening is considered so important in the development of the feminist canon. At the same time, I can understand why it was rejected so adamantly in its own time. Chopin is an okay writer. Her work, however, seethes ignorance. Her work was ignored in its time because it really was not worth the recognition. Anyway, that’s my humble, and not so intellectual, opinion.

The protagonist, 29, seems to awaken into an adolescence of sorts in this book. In the guise of discovering her sexuality and moving towards some kind of self-actualization, she does little more than become the town trollop while engaging in pseudo intellectual banter and hysterics. Yes, I said hysterics.

She addresses such issues as being a prisoner of marriage, society, social graces, and motherhood. At the same time, she never makes the mental baby steps towards a lifestyle that would give her the power of her own agency. She is spoiled, coddled, and does not have the courage to be a self sufficient person. When she decides to rebel, she does it by cheating on her husband, abandoning her children and responsibilities. All the time she is surrounded by servants, extravagance, and people feeding her distorted sense of entitlement. Ultimately she is humiliated when someone with a better sense of reality rejects her advances. She is left to build this new life for herself alone. Truly alone. This tremendous blow leads her to suicide. She could not handle standing on her own two feet.

You can’t tell me that Chopin’s work is so juvenile and lacking because she was the first. She wasn’t. Not in Creole Louisiana. Look at Aphra Behn, Mary Wollstonecraft, even Mary Shelley. That was literature. Those were the building blocks of feminist writing. Chopin is spoiled, confused, and completely unaware of how the world around her really works.

Jr Bacdayan

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 no mistake; I would be the last person to approve of her actions. However the gravity that this book carries lies not in the heroine’s flawed actions but in her ability to be flawed. Written during the backward 19th century society that not only asks but creeds that women should be the perfect embodiment of macho yearning: subservient, immaculate, modest, sensitive – and to be otherwise was to be unwomanly. Kate Chopin presented the then remote possibility that perhaps a woman defines herself rather than is defined by the conventions and social-edicts around her.

Our heroine, Edna Pontellier, cannot shake this feeling of unease. There lies upon her this great premonition that there exists someone inside her that is neither a wife nor a mother. “She thought of Leonce and the children. They were part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul.” And so, driven by affection for another man, she walks slowly along the tragic path of her defiance against her husband and the cruel society that she is part of. Bolder with each step she takes, she slowly comprehends that her war against the world is not just about which man she chooses to love but about her sense of identity as a woman.

There lies the devil. Edna was condemned for there was no victory at hand for her no matter how she struggled. Society did not permit her, a woman, to freely become the person she sought to become – a creature of her own volition. Yet in the face of certain defeat she displayed courage and will power till she had none more to give, defeated by her time.

“The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth. Whither would you soar?”

The 21st century is as unforgiving and treacherous for a woman as centuries past. Patriarchy and misogyny, for all the battles won, have found new ways to contain the gifts of womanhood and shackle her thoughts. But the wind of progress is blowing stronger than it has ever had. Mothers are not just mothers, and wives are much more than wives. There is a clamoring for you to be brave, to lead, to be different, to be flawed.

Will you soar?

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