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The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening (1899)

by Kate Chopin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,227141739 (3.62)471
  1. 130
    The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories {Oxford World's Classics} by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (MGovers)
    MGovers: Both published in 1899, both deal with the freedom of the wife. Interesting to compare the situation, actions and reactions of the main characters.
  2. 120
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Yells, StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: This is the American version of Madame Bovary - set in turn of the century Louisiana.
  3. 70
    A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (roulette.russe)
  4. 30
    Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (Yells)
  5. 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.
  6. 41
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (rosylibrarian)
  7. 00
    Anna Karenina [Norton Critical Edition, 1st ed.] by L.N. Tolstoy (gypsysmom)
  8. 00
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Strong female protagonist causes a stir in a male-dominated society by going after the things she wants.
  9. 00
    Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells (debbiereads)
  10. 00
    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.
  11. 00
    The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Both deal with the position of women in relation to the wider world.
  12. 00
    Summer by Edith Wharton (collsers)
  13. 01
    My Ántonia by Willa Cather (chrisharpe)
  14. 01
    The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (aliklein)
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English (139)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (142)
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
I had a friend who often spoke about how unsuited his mother had been for the life she ended up in. He told me that she was brilliant and talented, but that marriage and motherhood, within the social structure of the era, which was approximately the same as what Chopin was writing, stifled and essentially ruined her. "She should never have been a mother," he would say to me. Unspoken was the feeling that she caused irreparable damage to her sons because she was frustrated with the restrictions on her life.

I thought often of him, and of his mother, as I read The Awakening, a story of a woman who though not necessarily brilliant and talented, nevertheless chafes against the restrictions on her life, against the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood.

I can sympathize with Edna, I understand feeling hemmed in by responsibility to other people. I understand the power of epiphany, particularly when it concerns our true natures. What I found problematic here is that Edna's awakening seems so... passive, I guess. She begins to awaken to her true self, takes halting steps to self-actualization, and then gives in to the sense that she can never truly be who she needs to be. She frustrated me.

But then I'm from the generation who said, "Uh, no. I don't have to do or be anything I don't want to do or be." I was there for the early waves of feminism in the 70s when a lot of people got a lot wrong, (There was a lot we all got right too, though!) but we pushed forward, feeling that there was truth on our side. I kept asking myself why Edna couldn't go that extra few steps to extricate herself from the things that held her down, why she chose the course she chose in the end. For all her boldness, was she not brave enough?

I don't have an answer. I doubt I ever shall have one that satisfies me.

I listened to the audiobook of the novel, a Librivox recording from Readercoin, read by eight different women. While the quality of the narration varied, the overall feeling I got was one of intimacy and understanding. Eight women who were right there with Edna, telling us her story from her first epiphany to her last. I found it almost hypnotic to listen to them, women telling a woman's life. It was beautiful. I'm so glad I chose that format to introduce myself to the novel. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Aug 20, 2018 |
Kate Chopin has written in [b:The Awakening|58345|The Awakening|Kate Chopin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1170507247s/58345.jpg|1970518] a moving and heartfelt glimpse into the struggles of a woman who is torn between her traditional role as wife and mother and her need to satisfy the dreams and needs of self. Edna Pontellier is as individual as any real person any of us knows and as such she captures our empathy and understanding and awakes in us a bit of our feelings of desire for solitude and fulfillment.

As is so true for most human beings, shattered contentment and self-sacrifice are not easily regained once lost. Freedom is seldom relinquished without regret. I have heard this referred to as a "feminist" novel, but I think it goes far beyond that and reaches into the need of every human being to embrace their own identity and make their own choices. Of course, women were more subjected to constraints in this time than men and men were excluded from any sexual or passionate prohibitions, but consider a man who was forced by conventions to pursue his father's family career choice rather than his own inclinations or marry for proper connections rather than love. I found this to be more about what early feminists were after, which was equality of thought and value, rather than the kind of feminist issues I see at play today.

There is no doubt that this is a powerful story and one that resonates long after you have put down the book. While Edna is experiencing her awakening, we are meant to feel an awakening of our own. I'm sure it must have had a profound effect on women of her time caught in similar circumstances and trying to pretend those feelings and thoughts did not exist. Modern women have been the beneficiaries of the bravery of such women as Chopin who braved convention and brought such subjects into the light. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Absolutely amazing! I can’t believe that this book was written in 1899! It was very easy to read and almost modern-like. I think the reason some people don’t appreciate it is because the book’s theme is a common topic today. Since it is often discussed now, it is not as appreciated as it was when it was first published and the first of its kind. I also think that readers possibly miss or ignore all the foreshadowing and literary elements that make this piece the classic that it is.

Additionally, this piece offers a unique perspective on the ideas of feminism. Edna seeks equality in a time period whose society refuses to relent. Even the people who disagree with society's rules choose to bend to its will in the end. Unable to gain the independence and freedom she desires, Edna isolates herself in a fashion that leads to the novel’s tragic end. While I recognize it as an important part of the novel, I was still slightly irritated with Edna’s pursuit of freedom. While it was okay for her to actually pursue personal independence, she did so with such flippancy and disregard that I was disappointed with her. She chose to ignore her responsibilities (SUCH AS HER CHILDREN!) to pursue her own personal whims. If she had chased these dreams of hers while taking into consideration who her actions affected, I wouldn’t have been so irritated.

Overall, I was very impressed. My friend was reading the novel at the same time as me and didn’t appreciate it as much. But it’s okay! Not everyone will like it but I encourage everyone to at least give the novel a chance and to not simply look at its surface. There is depth in it that gives it incomparable beauty.
( )
  spellbindingstories | May 24, 2018 |
I once tried to read this book, quite some years ago, when I wasn't ready for it and I didn't finish it. But today, many years older (and hopefully wiser), I finally understood it. And it was everything. While I didn't actually like anyone in the book, I have to admire Chopin's determination to write something like this, to write Edna's boldness in wanting to be more than just a wife and a mother. ( )
1 vote RealLifeReading | Mar 14, 2018 |
The first time I read this book I was so young and I had read it for an undergraduate class, maybe women's lit or something. I read this as a feminist text and, in a lot of ways, it is.

Reading it again, much older and with more life experiences under my belt it's such a sad and empowering story to me. I never realized how trapped Edna was--the first time I read it I think I hadn't realized she couldn't divorce or, wouldn't survive if she did, and that going out into the sea was her only escape.

It's sad but what is so moving is when Edna tries so hard to carve out a space for herself--a room of her own.

I'm glad that it is at this moment in my life that I have read this book again. ( )
1 vote ylimejane | Feb 7, 2018 |
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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
Williams, Deborah L.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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 31 descriptions

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100313, 1400109078

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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