Friday, March 1, 2013

The Awakening

By Kate Chopin

Often hailed as the earliest work of Feminist literature, Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” is the story of mother and wife, Edna Pontillier and her summer in the deep south and her slow and steady awakening to her less than appealing life as a caged bird: a woman who is viewed as a possession by her husband and expected to sacrifice her very soul for her children…something she realizes she hates and cannot—will not—do.

So I would not call myself a ‘feminist’ and in true fashion, this book both impressed me and distressed me. Edna Pontillier’s story is a fantastic tragedy.  Basically her story begins with her being the typical housewise and mother to a husband who treats her as a possession rather than a person. She slowly comes to realize that she wants more as she receives the attentions of one of the men while vacationing. The book tells her subtle changes and gradual awakening—hence the title—and her eventual break from conventional norms of the time.  There are a lot of great moments in this book where Edna finds a freedom and independence that I think everyone can relate to; but I was so disconcerted with how she goes about seeking her freedom that I didn’t really care for this classic.  But again, I’m not really a feminist, so I guess that’s one reason why.

I give it a 3 out of 5- it would’ve been a 2 but for a few moments of beautiful writing and insight.

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