The Awakening Essay

These three awakenings, artistic, sexual, and motherhood, are what Chopin includes in her novel to define womanhood; or, more specifically, independent womanhood.

What seems to begin Edna’s awakening is the rediscovery of her artistic inclinations and talents.

She could see their shortcomings and defects, which were glaring in her eyes.” The discovery of defects in her previous works, and the desire to make them better demonstrate Edna’s reformation.

Art is being used to explain Edna’s change, to hint to the reader that Edna’s soul and character are also changing and reforming, that she is finding defects within herself.

Art, in "The Awakening," becomes a symbol of freedom and of failure.

While attempting to become an artist, Edna reaches the first peak of her awakening. When Mademoiselle Reisz asks Edna why she loves Robert, Edna responds, “Why?

It is pointed out here that “The beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing.” Still, as Donald Ringe notes in his essay, the book "is too often seen in terms of the question of sexual freedom.” The true awakening in the novel, and in Edna Pontellier, is the awakening of self.

Throughout the novel, she is on a transcendental journey of self-discovery.

She is learning what it means to be an individual, a woman, and a mother.

Indeed, Chopin amplifies the significance of this journey by mentioning that Edna Pontellier “sat in the library after dinner and read Emerson until she grew sleepy.


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