Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

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Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening should be seen as depicting the discontentment that comes from self-gratification rather than the glorification of delighting in one’s fantasies. Chopin describes the central idea of one who is seeking to please her personal needs and desires and, in the process, neglects to notice how her actions affect others. The protagonist, Edna, is not able to find peace or happiness in the accepted daily life that a woman of her era and social status should have. The fulfilling of her desires could essentially cause social ostracism for her, her husband, and her children, yet she is unable to find repose in living the typical social Victorian life. The final resolve of her “awakening”
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Bloom notes that, “Edna is even more isolated at the end than before” (9). As the signs of her discontentment become more severe and it becomes seemingly clear to her that she will not be able to have her strongest desires fulfilled, her suicide proves to be the next step in her spiral downward.

I first read and studied Kate Chopin during my first semester of college. The assigned story was “The Story of an Hour,” and I remember the sense of shock that I felt when I finished it. When I went to the next class to discuss the story, I remember the stir in the classroom as my classmates could not understand how a happily married woman could be relieved by the unexpected death of her husband, to the point that she dies of heart failure at seeing that he is still alive. The students in my class were eager to rationalize why she may feel this way, but were unable to concretely support any of their claims.

There were several years between my reading of that first short story and any subsequent stories by her. Recently, I have begun to study Chopin again by reading such stories as “At the ‘Cadian Ball,” “The Storm,” and The Awakening. Being a conventionalist, I am intrigued by Chopin’s female protagonists, who seem to totally completely disregard their roles in society
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