Essay, Research Paper: Awakening By Kate Chopin Focus

Literature: Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening relates the emotion-driven story of Edna
Pontellier. Her story is a happy one. Not because of some typical fairy tale
ending where they all live happily ever after, but in that she accomplished her
goal in life. She never "sacrificed herself for her children." (p.
115) Edna Pontellier remained an individual. The music that was brought to her
by Mademoiselle Reisz stirred up a deeper meaning in Edna's life. This is the
point at which she feels her new being forming. In the end, not only did she
realized that her new life had no place in this world, but that she would be
happier in the sea, where there were no restrictions placed on her and the
possibilities could be endless. She achieved her goal of being a free spirit
through her death. Both Robert and Edna are in love with each other, and both
know that with the societal constraints that a romance could never be possible.
Still with the combination of Mademoiselle Reisz’s music and a newfound love
for Robert, Edna starts the "Awakening." An amazing transformation
takes place in Edna throughout the course of a few months. The people with whom
she interacts and the culture in which she is submersed play a significant role
in her "awakening." Edna is able to break away from the restraining
world of Adele and Leonce in which she will never find her place. Stirred by the
magic and intrigue of Mademoiselle Reisz's world, she finds the strength to
reach for that which is real for her, and she allows her true being to shine. To
Mrs. Pontellier, "the children appeared before her like antagonists who had
overcome her; who had overpowered her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of
her days." This is the complete opposite of what she wanted her
relationship with her children to be. She was willing to do anything for her
children, except give her self up for them. Her individuality was preserved
during her life by her separations from her family. Edna bought the house around
the corner in order to go and be away from her children and paint. Towards the
end of her life, Edna realizes that she is becoming consumed by her family. They
are taking over her soul. "But she knew a way to elude them." (p. 115)
Her actions around her suicide greatly symbolize everything she hopes to achieve
in her life, and finally found in her death. As she walked down to the beach for
the last time she put on her bathing suit. When she arrived at the shore,
"she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her." That symbolized
the shedding of her "unpleasant" and "pricking" life.
"For the first time in her life she stood naked in the open air."
(p.115) She was on her way to being free. "She felt like a new-born
creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known."
(p.115) Mrs. Pontellier had never known spiritual freedom. This was her release
from a controlling world. As she swam towards eternity, Edna thought of a lot of
things. She thought of her children and husband. She knew then that "they
need not have thought that they could posses her, body and soul." Edna knew
that suicide was her only way of completely liberating her soul. Edna Pontellier
underwent a spiritual awakening. It was achieved through the endless physical
sleep of death. In the case of The Awakening, the title itself relates the
central idea of the novel. Edna’s spiritual awakening is significant because
everything else in the work is working towards that goal. Edna cannot have
anything she desires in this world, and therefore removed herself from it in a
final "awakening" of her soul.
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