Essay on The Awakening

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Criticism of The Awakening

Reading through all of the different criticism of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening has brought about ideas and revelations that I had never considered during my initial reading of the novel. When I first read the text, I viewed it as a great work of art to be revered. However, as I read through all of the passages, I began to examine Chopin’s work more critically and to see the weaknesses and strengths of her novel. Reading through others' interpretations of her novel has also brought forth new concepts to look at again.

In "An American Madame Bovary," Cyrille Arnavon argues that “there seems to be insufficient justification for Edna’s ‘romantic’ suicide, and this is the main weakness of this fine
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However, in her suicide, Edna is giving herself to her children, to Robert, to everyone but herself.

Another interesting aspect of the novel is irony, which seems to play a significant role throughout the story. Although we read about Edna’s awakening, she seems to be sleeping during most of it. As George Arms notes, “When she first openly seeks out Robert and takes him--again amusingly--to Sunday morning mass, she is drowsy at the service . . .” (200). Edna sleeps the day away at a nearby house. Then, as Arms also points out, Edna is awakened “to an erotic life not through Robert, whom she truly loves, but through Alcee, whom she uses merely as a convenience" (200). But when Robert returns, she informs him that he had been the one to awaken her. So who was it really? Then there is the irony found in the use of her children, whom she “has little intimacy, and her husband accuses her of neglecting them.” (201). Yet she would die for her children according to her own words.

Edna’s great desire to be with Robert and have her dreams fulfilled are a possibility when Robert comes to her. She tells him “nothing else in the world is of any consequence” (238). Yet she leaves him to be with Adele. As Cynthia Griffin Wolff explains, “To have stayed with Robert would have meant consummation, finally, the joining of her dreamlike passion to a flesh and blood lover; to leave was to risk that opportunity” (239). Was it that Edna was afraid to stay and

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