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The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening (1899)

by Kate Chopin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Recently added byprivate library, Templeton_Library, jillckimball, MrsBaus, KatDes, DevonSee
  1. 120
    The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories {Oxford World's Classics} by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (JustJoey4)
    JustJoey4: Both published in 1899, both deal with the freedom of the wife. Interesting to compare the situation, actions and reactions of the main characters.
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    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (bucketyell, StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
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    A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (roulette.russe)
  4. 41
    A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A woman realizes she has a responsibility to herself that comes before that to her husband, children and societal expectations.
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    Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (bucketyell)
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    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (rosylibrarian)
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    Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Both books deal with protagonists (one a wife and one a husband) who find themselves unable to live up to the expectations of conventional married life.
  8. 00
    Anna Karenina [Norton Critical Edition, 1st ed.] by L.N. Tolstoy (gypsysmom)
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    The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Both deal with the position of women in relation to the wider world.
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    The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (aliklein)
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» See also 417 mentions

English (108)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Sometimes the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list surprises me with a great book that I had never heard of. Such was the case with this book.

Published in 1899, The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontillier, a young married woman with two sons. It opens in a resort in Grand Isle on the Gulf of Mexico where Mrs Pontillier and the boys are staying for the summer with Mr. Leonce Pontillier coming down from New Orleans on weekends. The owner's son, Robert Lebrun, falls in love with Edna and the feeling is reciprocated although there is no physical intimacy. Towards the end of the summer Robert leaves Grand Isle to seek his fortune in Mexico and Edna feels very depressed. Back in New Orleans Mrs. Pontillier stops involving herself in polite society and feels happier and free. Her husband goes to New York on a business trip and the boys are sent to their grandmother in Iberville so Edna is free to do as she likes. What she really wants to do is live with Robert but society would find that scandalous. Edna Pontillier is a prisoner of her times and, like Anna Karenina, she is made to suffer.

As can be imagined this book was vilified by many reviewers when it came out. But I imagine a number of women probably read it and felt it spoke to them. The writing style is so evocative of the Deep South that I felt transported there. We spent a few days on Grand Isle last year and although I am sure it is far different from the 1890s when this story was set I too felt the langourous pleasure of that locale. It is a perfect setting for this story. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 3, 2015 |
Loved it! I especially love the ambiguous ending that I enjoy arguing about.
( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
This book is about the journey of a woman and how she struggles with trying to decide what is best versus what she is supposed to do or think according to society. This book brings attention to women's issues back in the day. The book is not really my style, therefore i really did not enjoy it. ( )
  Hhaddad1 | Apr 30, 2015 |
Far, far ahead of its time, this absolutely incredible book addresses a woman’s trapped feelings in an era where, once married, she has little say in her choices, and her primary job is to do as told by her husband. For bringing to light the unspeakable possibility that a woman may not designed to be a wife, a mother, and the desire for true love, Kate Chopin was ostracized since the book’s publication in 1899, dying 5 short years later in 1904. Now, in my modern set of eyes, this work is easily a feminist trailblazer with Edna Pontellier seeking personal freedom.

The novel begins with what seems to be an idyllic life of summer beach house, servants, and gifts. But clues of frustrations are sprinkled liberally in the pages including troubles with her husband. She breaks daily traditions, then settles into her own household, and establishes her own income. When she finds reciprocated love, it’s still a disillusion: “…you never consider for a moment what I think, or how I feel your neglect and indifference.” I honestly can’t tell if her love was a coward or being kind with: “Good-by, because I love you.” – Wtf. You decide.

It may have been in a different era with different expectations to match, it’s still very relatable for anyone who are stuck in a situation and don’t know how to break free. The thoughts and emotions of Edna saddened me; her darkness penetrated me. Just because one is in a seemingly good life, it doesn’t mean one is happy. Edna describes “periods of despondency and suffering” – depression. In her own way, Chopin minced no words in her expressions, and it was abominable for 1899. (It was pulled from bookshelves!) Not everyone will agree with the ending, but for me, it’s understandable and hinted early on.

Favorite Character: Mademoiselle Reisz – Described as “disagreeable”, she is likely blunt, which is a perfectly good trait. She is independent and has observant eyes for Edna’s evolving needs.
Least Favorite Character: Robert Lebrun – Aforementioned coward… I hope he regrets what he did to her.

Some Quotes:

On the passionless husband:
“… the Creole husband is never jealous; with him the gangrene passion is one which has become dwarfed by disuse.”

On depression:
“An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish.”

On settling in marriage – this is cripplingly familiar:
“She was a grown young woman when she was overtaken by what she supposed to be the climax of her fate. It was when the face and figure of a great tragedian began to haunt her imagination and stir her senses. The persistence of the infatuation lent it an air of genuineness. The hopelessness of it colored it with the lofty tones of a great passion…
Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate. …. He pleased her; his absolute devotion flattered her. She fancied there was a sympathy of thought and taste between them, in which fancy she was mistaken…
The acme of bliss, which would have been a marriage with the tragedian, was not for her in this world. As the devoted wife of a man who worshipped her, she felt she would take her place with a certain dignity in the world of reality, closing the portals forever behind her upon the realm of romance and dreams.”

On one-self and identity:
“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
“…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.”

On awakening:
“A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her – the light which, showing the way, forbids it.
At that early period it served but to bewilder her. It moved her to dreams, to thoughtfulness, to the shadowy anguish which had overcome her the midnight when she had abandoned herself to tears. In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being…

On the confusion of love:
“Does he write to you? Never a line. Does he send you a message? Never a word. It is because he loves you, poor fool, and is trying to forget you, since you are not free to listen to him or to belong to him.”

On infatuation:
“As Edna walked along the street she was thinking of Robert. She was still under the spell of her infatuation. She had tried to forget him, realizing the inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with an incomprehensible longing.”

On strength:
“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.”

On not-being-owned:
“You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,’ I should laugh at you both.”

I call this the blue pill, red pill:
“…perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” ( )
2 vote varwenea | Mar 22, 2015 |
Trapped in a loveless marriage Edna Pontellier finds herself waking up when she discovers her feelings for her friend Robert. Her married life does not fit her, even though her husband probably would have been considered a good catch at the time - he doesn't interfere with her past-time activities, sends her gifts, doesn't seem interested in other women, isn't abusive, which her father seems to have been with her mother.

She is going through the motions of being a wife and mother, caring for her children, occasionally with love, occasionally with indifference, and she is obedient with to her husband in the same manner:
She would, through habit, have yielded to his desire, not with any sense of submission or obedience to his compelling wishes, but unthinkingly, as we walk, move, sit, stand, go through the daily tFinishedmill of the life which has been portioned out to us.
However, she comes to realise that this is not enough for her.
I would give up the unessential, I would give my money, I would give my life for my children, but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear, it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
“I don’t know what you would call the essential, or what you mean by the unessential,” said Madame Ratignolle, cheerfully, “but a woman who would give her life for her children could do no more than that—your Bible tells you so. I’m sure I couldn’t do more than that.”
“Oh, yes you could!” laughed Edna.
Her husband does not take it well.
Mr. Pontellier had been a rather courteous husband so long as he met a certain tacit submissiveness in his wife. But her new and unexpected line of conduct completely bewildered him. It shocked him. Then her absolute disregard for her duties as a wife angered him.
With that being their relationship - her side absent-minded submission, his taking her for granted in her role rather than taking her seriously as a person, who could be surprised that she doesn't want to keep being married to him? They have no relationship, they are both in it merely out of convenience and tradition. I don't think that she is a good role-model, but so many people still force themselves to stick it out in unhappy marriages because they can't fathom any alternatives, and neither can Edna.

Edna has to give up her life for her children, because she can't give up herself. She won't be dragged into the "soul's slavery" for their sake, but also can't undo the change in her that has taken place. I feel for her, though I wouldn't have made her choice, and I can't understand the hatred that people are aiming at her. ( )
1 vote Mothwing | Jan 4, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chopin, Kateprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Sandra M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lammers, GeertjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, MarilynneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Showalter, ElaineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walker, Nancy A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Deborah L.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

The Awakening and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics) {33 stories} by Kate Chopin

The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction {14 stories} by Kate Chopin

The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories: At Fault / Bayou Folk / A Night in Acadie / The Awakening / Uncollected Stories (Library of America) by Kate Chopin

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories {9 stories} by Kate Chopin

Three Classics By American Women: The Awakening; Ethan Frome; O Pioneers ( Bantam Classics) by Kate Chopin

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A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside, kept repeating over and over:
"Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!"
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.
She missed him the days when some pretext served to take him away from her, just as one misses the sun on a cloudy day without having thought much about the sun when it was shining.
The years that are gone seem like dreams – if one might go on sleeping and dreaming – but to wake up and find – oh! Well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.
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Book description
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 threaten to consume her. Originally entitled A Solitary Soul, this portrait of twenty-eight-year-old Edna Pontellier is a landmark in American fiction, rooted firmly in the Romantic tradition of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson. Here a woman engaged in self-discovery turns away from convention and society and toward the primal, irresistibly attracted to nature and the senses. The Awakening, Kate Chopin's last novel, has been praised by Edmund Wilson as "beautifully written." And Willa Cather described its style as "exquisite," "sensitive," and "iridescent."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380002450, Mass Market Paperback)

"She grew daring and reckless. Overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out. Where no woman had swum before."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:19 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Edna Pontellier, a Victorian-era wife and mother, is awakened to the full force of her desire for love and freedom when she becomes enamored with Robert LeBrun, a young man she meets while on vacation.

» see all 18 descriptions

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9 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100313, 1400109078

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