The Awakening Essay Research Paper The novel

  • Просмотров 133
  • Скачиваний 4
  • Размер файла 17
    Кб

The Awakening Essay, Research Paper The novel, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin is set in the late nineteenth century, in Louisiana. This is a place and time for women to submit themselves to the wants and needs of husbands and families. The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, isn t content with being a mother-woman, one of the ordinary, traditional women who, “…idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it to a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels”( Chopin 51). Edna wanted more, and as there were very few women at this time leading the way to break these sorts of glass ceilings, Edna looked for women within her life to model herself after. Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz, two women who also engage

in art, serve as Edna Pontellier s options, they represent what society views as the suitable and unsuitable woman figures. Mademoiselle Ratignolle is the ideal Grand Isle woman, a home-loving mother and a good wife, and Mademoiselle Reisz as the old, unmarried, childless, musician who devoted her life to music, rather than a man. Feeling that neither of their lifestyles were suitable and lacking the ability to create a model of her own, Edna in the closing of The Awakening commits suicide by walking into the ocean. Perhaps if there had been a more well rounded woman figure in Edna s life, she wouldn t have felt the life she craved was, …an undefined, unexpressed, ineffable life that she cannot articulate or shape (Spangler). In witnessing other women achieve the articulation

of a complexly spirited life, she may have found a new life easier to attain. Adele serves as the perfect “mother-woman” in The Awakening, being both married and pregnant, but Edna does not follow Adele s footsteps. For Edna, Adele appears unable to perceive herself as an individual human being. She possesses no sense of herself beyond her role as wife and mother, and therefore Adele exists only in relation to her family, not in relation to herself or the world. Edna respects art, but does not respect Adele s reasoning for playing the piano, She was keeping up her music on account of the children, she said: because she and her husband both considered it a means of brightening the home and making it attractive (Chopin 69). Regardless of whether Adele actually feels this way

about her art or whether she only uses it to rationalize, it is still a maternal project in Edna s eyes that will only thrust her further into the role she rejects, Women s art, as Adele presents it, is social, pleasant, and undemanding. It does not conflict with her duties as a wife and mother (Showalter 74). Edna being against the mother-woman image is obviously turned off by this notion. A woman who Edna does believe to play the piano for the right reasons is Mademoiselle Reisz, the other female model. Despite Reisz s eccentricities, Edna is completely mesmerized by her ability to live and to play, maybe her ability to live to play. When the characters are still vacationing at Grande Isle nearer to the opening of the book, Edna wishes to hear Mademoiselle Reisz play and Robert

calls on her. After explaining that Edna would often listen to Reisz practice as she imagined corresponding stories to each song, it is explained that on this particular day, listening to Reisz play this particular song, Edna had an awakening reaction, It was not the first time she had heard an artist play the piano. Perhaps it was the first time she was ready, perhaps the first time her being was ready to take an impress of the abiding truth (71). Because Reisz s music evoked this out pouring of feelings in Edna, there is a special bond between the two women. This bond grows and strengthens throughout the course of their relationship. Edna, although sometimes confused by her conversations with Reisz, also finds strength. She explains to Alcee Arobin how Reisz sometimes makes her