"This seems to me a higher order of feminism than repeating the story of woman as victim... Kate Chopin gives her female protagonist the central role, normally reserved for Man, in a meditation on identity and culture, consciousness and art." -- From the introduction by Marilynne Robinson.
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About the Author
A precursor of the 20th century's feminist authors, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote short stories and novels for children and adults. The St. Louis native lived in New Orleans for a dozen years and set most of her tales amid Louisiana's Creole culture. Many of her stories were well ahead of their time, and she achieved widespread acclaim only after her death.
Read an Excerpt
Upon the pleasant veranda of Pere Antoine's cottage, that adjoined the church, a young girl had long been seated, awaiting his return. It was the eve of Easter Sunday, and since early afternoon the priest had been engaged in hearing the confessions of those who wished to make their Easters the following day. The girl did not seem impatient at his delay; on the contrary, it was very restful to her to lie back in the big chair she had found there, and peep through the thick curtain of vines at the people who occasionally passed along the village street.
She was slender, with a frailness that indicated lack of wholesome and plentiful nourishment. A pathetic, uneasy look was in her gray eyes, and even faintly stamped her features, which were fine and delicate. In lieu of a hat, a barege veil covered her light brown and abundant hair. She wore a coarse white cotton 'josie,' and a blue calico skirt that only half concealed her tattered shoes.
As she sat there, she held carefully in her lap a parcel of eggs securely fastened in a red bandana handkerchief.
Twice already a handsome, stalwart young man in quest of the priest had entered the yard, and penetrated to where she sat. At first they had exchanged the uncompromising 'howdy' of strangers, and nothing more. The second time, finding the priest still absent, he hesitated to go at once. Instead, he stood upon the step, and narrowing his brown eyes, gazed beyond the river, off towards the west, where a murky streak of mist was spreading across the sun.
'It look like mo' rain,' he remarked, slowly and carelessly.
'We done had 'bout 'nough,' she replied, in much the same tone.
'It's no chance tothin out the cotton,' he went on.
'An' the Bon-Dieu,' she resumed, 'it's on'y to-day you can cross him on foot.'
'You live yonda on the Bon-Dieu, donc?' he asked, looking at her for the first time since he had spoken.
'Yas, by Nid Hibout, monsieur.'
Instinctive courtesy held him from questioning her further. But he seated himself on the step, evidently determined to wait there for the priest. He said no more, but sat scanning critically the steps, the porch, and pillar beside him, from which he occasionally tore away little pieces of detached wood, where it was beginning to rot at its base.
A click at the side gate that communicated with the churchyard soon announced Pere Antoine's return. He came hurriedly across the garden-path, between the tall, lusty rosebushes that lined either side of it, which were now fragrant with blossoms. His long, flapping cassock added something of height to his undersized, middle-aged figure, as did the skullcap which rested securely back on his head. He saw only the young man at first, who rose at his approach.
'Well, Azenor,' he called cheerily in French, extending his hand. 'How is this? I expected you all the week.'
'Yes, monsieur; but I knew well what you wanted with me, and I was finishing the doors for Gros-Leon's new house' saying which, he drew back, and indicated by a motion and look that some one was present who had a prior claim upon Pere Antoine's attention.
'Ah, Lalie!' the priest exclaimed, when he had mounted to the porch, and saw her there behind the vines. 'Have you been waiting here since you confessed? Surely an hour ago!'
'You should rather have made some visits in the village, child.'
'I am not acquainted with any one in the village,' she returned.
The priest, as he spoke, had drawn a chair, and seated himself beside her, with his hands comfortably clasping his knees. He wanted to know how things were out on the bayou.
'And how is the grandmother?' he asked. 'As cross and crabbed as ever? And with that'—he added reflectively—'good for ten years yet! I said only yesterday to Butrand—you know Butrand, he works on Le Blot's Bon-Dieu place—'And that Madame Zidore: how is it with her, Butrand? I believe God has forgotten her here on earth.''It isn't that, your reverence,' said Butrand, 'but it's neither God nor the Devil that wants her!'' And Pere Antoine laughed with a jovial frankness that took all sting of ill-nature from his very pointed remarks.
Table of Contents
About the Series
About this Volume
PART I. THE AWAKENING: THE COMPLETE TEXT
Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts
The Complete Text [The 1969 Seyersted Edition]
New Cultural Documents
New Two Contemporary Reviews of The Awakening:
From "Recent Novels" (The Nation 69, 3 August 1899, 96)
From "Books of the Week" (Providence Sunday Journal, 4 June 1899, 15)
New Two Principles in Recent American Fiction, James Lane Allen (The Altantic Monthly, October 1897)
New Home Study for Young Ladies: Visiting Cards (from Collier's Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Entertaining Knowledge, 1887)
New The Dressing-Table New Advertisements from Women's Magazines
Lablanche Face Powder (Ladies Home Journal, August 1899)
Braided Wire Bristles and Forms (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899)
Ferris's Good Sense Corset Waists: When Beauty Reigns (Harper's Magazine, January 1899)
The Whitely Exerciser (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896)
New Fashion Plates from Women's Magazines
Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, January 1897)
Plate No. 6 (Godey's Magazine, March 1897)
Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, August 1897)
New A People Who Live Amid Romance, Ruth McEnery Stuart, (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896)
New The Artist and Marriage (The Atlantic Monthly, January 1899)
New What It Means to Be a Wife, Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, March 1899)
New The True Meaning of Motherhood,Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899)
New What Women Find to Do all Day (Ladies Home Journal, April 1899)
New The Evolution of Woman in the South, Walter Gregory, (Godey's Magazine, October 1897)
PART II. THE AWAKENING: A CASE STUDY IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM
A Critical History of The Awakening
Feminist Criticism and The Awakening
What Is Feminist Criticism?
Feminist Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Feminist Perspective:
Elaine Showalter, Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book
Gender Criticism and The Awakening
What Is Gender Criticism?
Gender Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Gender Perspective:
New Elizabeth LeBlanc, The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening
New Historicism and The Awakening
What Is New Historicism?
New Historicism: A Selected Bibliography A New Historicist Perspective:
Margit Stange, Personal Property: Exchange Value and the Female Self in The Awakening
Deconstruction and The Awakening
What Is Deconstruction?
Deconstruction: A Selected Bibliography A Deconstructionist Perspective:
Patricia S. Yaeger, "A Language Which Nobody Understood": Emancipatory Strategies in The Awakening
Reader-Response and The Awakening
What Is Reader-Response Criticism?
Reader-Response Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Reader-Response Perspective:
Paula A. Treichler, The Construction of Ambiguity in The Awakening: A Linguistic Analysis
New Combining Critical Perspectives:
Cynthia Griffin Wolff, Un-utterable Longing: The Discourse of Feminine Sexuality in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
About the Contributors
What People are Saying About This
"Shelly Frasier's reading is thick with languor and sensuality as she creates an Edna who feels all but physically present."-AudioFile
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A fascinating glimpse into a world that is past -- a world that was on the brink of change. Even if this were not a gripping story in its own right (which, by all means, it is), "The Awakening" would be worth reading simply for this social-historical vision. This edition of The Awakening is a beautifully compiled work. I found it incredibly insightful as I used it for research papers in high school and college. The essays and criticism from Chopin's era are priceless. It was so helpful to have those along with the text, they really gave insight one could not find elsewhere. The Awakening continues to be my favorite book, this my favorite edition. If you are going to write a paper on this book or Chopin there is no other book that will help you more. This was a shocking novel in 1899 but today Pontellier's turmoil and dilemma would be neither unusual nor frightening and perhaps that is why modern man and woman usually succeed in handling these situations in a far better way than Pontellier.
The book is about a woman trying to find herself while bound by the constraints of society. Throughout the book she falls asleep and reawakens to realize something new about herself. I believe that the story of the book is very strong, but where it lacks is in the writing itself. I found the writing to be drawn out, and too wordy. Chopin was a turn of the century writer, and many of these writers used such a style. I believe Chopins other works such as her short story Deseree's Baby, were a little more exciting and were a bit easier to read because they were in short story form. The story of The Awakening could make a very good short story, but the novel form drags the story too much.
It was difficult for me to like, sympathize or empathize with any of the main characters in this book. Nevertheless, this is an interesting character profile of a member of the "me generation" born 100 years too early, set deep within creole New Orleans society. An intellectually satisfying read.
A little too much description for every movement & thought. Very slow & boring!
Kate Chopin's The Awakening was published on April 22, 1899 by Herbert S. Stone & Company in Chicago. Chopin wrote the feminist novel in the time period when husbands had expectations that the wife must accomplish. Caring for the kids and keeping the house intact were just a few expectations among others. Chopin writes from the perspective of a trapped woman who frees herself from the ropes her husband has tied. With much detail, Chopin describes every step taken by the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, as she advances and quickly becomes the woman she has dreamt to be. Her transition from obedient wife to independent soul takes Mrs. Pontellier through an unforgettable journey. The adventure, which Mrs. Pontellier embarks on, introduces her to liberation and independence. The Awakening would best fit readers who are willing to dig deeper into the novel. Readers should be willing to extract her action in order to completely understand her reasons. I would recommend this novel to high school students with moderate experience in challenging books. The pacing in this difficult novel is slow. The author wrote this story in a short time frame in order to give specific detail on her experiences with liberty. The protagonist developed her character early in the novel. As the novel began, readers could see signs of a woman taking the first steps of rebellion. Towards the end, it was evident that Mrs. Pontellier had completely transformed from a trapped soul to soaring dove, living her life to the fullest. She threw a party at her house while her husband was away to show her independence as a new woman.
Written with provocative undertone, chopin would have a grateful appause in the 21st century
This book is very slow and boring .
"I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself." THE AWAKENING written by Kate Chopin portraits a world back in the late 1800s. A fascinating story of the life of a young woman, who is also a wife and a mother, shows challenges against the values of the world during that particular time period. Kate Chopin describes a world that she has been dreaming of, that she believes in women can say something rather than being controlled by men. The protagonist went against the important moral issue that was highly valued back in those days. The author applied adultery issues into the life of the main character to describe her journey towards freedom and independence. The story itself is a well-written piece, which made it easier for readers to take a quick glance into a world that has been nearly hundred years ago. Even though the novel is one of the most famous classic pieces, the clear usage of language and style of the author helped the readers in the process of understanding the conflicts. Kate Chopin, an explorer who challenged the idea of sexuality in American literature back in 1800s will guide readers to awaken their minds of ideas of individuality and liberty, which are concepts that we can observe in today's world thankful to the pioneer authors.
The Awakening was a book that was a slow read and was hard to follow. A woman named Edna is married the man named Leonce and begins to realize how limited her freedom is. In the book, Leonce often goes on long business trips and Edna is left alone. When Leonce sends Edna some bonbons while he is on his business trip, Edna¿s friends tell her how wonderful that he is and she unwillingly because of the fear she has of correcting them. This is the first time that we see that she is unhappy in her marriage and it becomes a recurring issue as the book goes on. Throughout the book, Edna talks to her friend Adels about this situation. Edna Edna and Adele begin somewhat the same, but as the book goes on, Edna becomes more independent and Adele tries to stop her from thriving. Adele tries to protect Edna¿s image and reputation and is the static character of the book. During Leonce¿s business trip, Edna becomes more and more involved with a man named Robert. Eventually she cannot take her mind off of him and she cannot go a day without thinking about him. When a woman named Mademoiselle Reisz reminds Robert that it will ruin his reputation if he hooks up with a married woman, he moves to Mexico. During this time, she flirted and had relations with another man named Alcee. When she ¿messed around¿ with him, she felt not like she betrayed her husband but that she betrayed her husband but that she betrayed Robert. She is very indecisive about which man she wants and always claims that Robert is the perfect man for her. The only problem is she cheats on him as often as possible. A romance is usually a book where people find out who they love, but she really never make up her mind. It seemed like each chapter got more and more boring because all she did was talk about how she wanted Robert and then she would cheat on him with Alcee. She did not even take into consideration of what her husband would think she pretty much just left him. She doesn¿t even talk to her husband after she leaves. It seems like he just disappears. All in all, this book was basically about a woman who didn¿t want her husband anymore, and it was very boring. This ending was also quite disappointing. If you like exciting romance novels, this is not the book for you.
Rachel E: If I were to rate this book on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 5, because it is the definition of mediocre. I did not hate the book or find it too boring to read, but at no point did I find myself wishing to read more. I felt that Mrs. Pontellier's suicide made for a perfect ending. After discovering who she really was and rebelling against society, she could no longer handle the struggle. I was originally sympathetic towards Mrs. Pontellier and tried imagining how difficult it must have been to belong to your husband and be treated as property. However, Mrs. Pontellier admits she would not sacrifice herself for her own children, which caused me to view her as a selfish, unfit mother. Although, Mr. Pontellier believes he owns his wife, I still felt he was a loving husband. He behaves the way society has bred him too, at the same time still trying to respect his wife's wishes and avoiding upsetting her. I did not particularly care for the excessive descriptions of the scenery or objects such as the women's evening gowns. The title The Awakening, fits perfectly for Mrs. Pontellier realizes who she actually is and wakes up to the idea that she is an outsider to society. Overall, I feel the book was well written and creative, but did not effectively hold the interest of the reader.
The book was slow, i mean- really slow. It took longer to read those 100 or so pages than almost any book I've read but the climactic conclusion did improve my overall outlook on that wasted time spent dragging through this.
Kate Chopin was featured in the St. Louis history museum in Forest Park (Free admission -- A wonderful city to visit!) so I decided to read one of her novels. A daring subject and approach for a female writer of her time. Typically existential for the period. A good book for understanding southern culture or women's issues in the 1800's. Suitable for reading for High School students.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin It was during 1899 that this book was published. Its key character was a lady, Edna, who had many sexual desires and ended up basically condemning herself. She goes through many things in life that woman would never wish to have happen to them. She basically lived for the sake of others but eventually found inner strength through self-image. During the time this book was written, woman were not exactly favored in society. Woman had barely any rights, and were normally left by their husbands for other woman. The major theme in this book is to have happiness. She let peer pressure get to her and that ended up keeping her from being free and happy. She spent her time searching for a life that was not exactly right for her, and her living in a creole society was no good match for her trying to improve her life. Self image was a key to this book as well. If it weren’t for how well she thought of herself and sold herself to men, her life would have been a lot different. What I liked about this book was the amount of description the book gave about characters, settings, and the plot. It gave very vivid descriptions as if I were in her shoes. What I did not like about the book was that it did not give a clear ending. Yes, it did give an ending to her and what happened to her, but it never gave reasons for what and why she did what she did at the end. I feel the author could have added more of an ending of all the characters or might have even ended the book in a different way. This book has a tendency to get kind of boring, but events happen and it becomes interesting again. Someone should read this book because it teaches many life lessons that you might not otherwise get from just living in our own bubbles. It gives real life examples of how choices woman make can lead to problems that can impact our entire lives without even realizing it until it is too late. Other recommended works are: At Fault by Kate Chopin is about a lady who is widowed at 32 and how she is left to basically start life over at her plantation in Louisiana and all the obstacles she faces.
I liked this book. All the characters are flawed, but good and sympathetic nonetheless. Though Edna is definitely not one of the nobler protagonists, the reader does sympathize with her plight to find her own identity in a world where she has been defined by her relation to others (mother, daughter, etc.). Not much happens in the book, but I found each character interesting enough to care about them to the end.
This book is annoyingly boring and provided insight into the dull minds of 17th century women.
To anyone hoping for any sort of entertainment from this story, you will be sorely disappointed. The characters are bland and flat, the plot holds no substance and the main conflict delivers neither a good payoff nor a satisfying resolution. The book's main character is meant to give off an air of independence and strength. She is meant to represent changing times and the will of women everywhere. Instead she comes off as a whiney brat with not a care for anyone but herself. Not only does she neglect her husband, but also the children that she brought into thos world. She moans and groans about the lack of attention given to her, all while completely staying in the background, running about with other men. No character in this novel is likable, and the ones who you manage not to hate all end up being boringand underused. Do not read this book.
I read The Awakening to celebrate Banned Books Week 2010, after I found it on a list of frequently challenged books. It's a wonderful book, but only if you are prepared to appreciate it for what it is: an early feminist novel and a classic. Don't pick this book up if you're looking for a love story! The Awakening is about a Victorian woman who realizes how trapped she is, and not really about sex or love, though that is what makes her realize it.
I wouldn't have read this book without needing to for my class, but I wasn't completely disappointed. As a book that is influential in the women's movement of the early 1900s, it's not the worst. I really like the short stories by Kate Chopin, but the novel just doesn't seem to go anywhere. The awakening that the main character goes through is not as entertaining as it could have been. Also, it was very controversial during the time that it was written because of the affair that the main character has, but for today's standards it's not as shocking and therefore not as interesting.
While the book can be a tad slow on some of the parts, the book is still great to read on how some women in the 19th century would feel about their lives. And you can be sure of the authenticity since Kate Chopin was one herself. Edna was a good character through her desperation of wanting to be free but feeling stuck in the world of what women should do The book was definitely a good read.
I had to read this book for school. I usually like to read but this book was so bad I could barely stand it.
i read a lot and i love to read but i had to read this book for mah AP english class and i literally had to force myself to read it. it is such a slow moving boring book.i wouldnt recommend it to anyone, in fact i recommend that you dont read it and spare yourself the pain.
I found the book sad. The message of this book seems to be if you find that your life as taken you someplace you don't like - just give up. Not the message I want my daughters to get.
A married woman has an awakening of spirit after falling in love with a young man on a vacation by the seaside, which leads her to new social and spiritual freedoms. It's interesting that despite her husband's insistence that his wife must be ill to behave this way, many of her friends and allies (and some strangers/acquaintances) remain true and support her. Told with sparse prose, this story is considered a strong feminist tale, and considering the period in which it was written, it certainly is. Though it's old fashioned by today's standards, it's still a beautiful, touching story.
The theme for my book club this month was Choose Your Own Classic. I had lots of possibilities in mind, but didn't get one started until just a few days before the meeting. So, I found a list of classic novellas and chose [The Awakening] from that list. (I think that I'll read more from that list this year. I always intend to read more classics, but time gets away from me, so novellas seem like a good compromise.)One of the joys of reading a classic is being taken back to another time. Chopin does an amazing job of transporting her readers to the late 19th century. The novel chronicles Edna Pontellier's awakening during a vacation at a summer resort and later back in New Orleans. While her husband is focused on business and pays little attention to Edna, Edna develops a friendship with Robert Lebrun and begins to want more from life than she has found in her roles as wife and mother. Through telling Edna's story, Chopin not only provides a rich picture of life in the late 19th century, but also raises important questions about the discontent that comes with changing expectations. I didn't find the story itself that engaging, but I did appreciate Chopin's ability to use a year in Edna's life to illustrate the challenges faced by women at this point in history.