The Awakening # El Despertar; Kate Chopin

Literatura inglesa siglo XIX. Narativa. Novela. Realismo. Despertar emocional y sexual # Novel. Realism

  • Enviado por: Nagore Etxebarria
  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: España España
  • 4 páginas

Discuss what we learn about the main character´s state of mind in

this brief paragraph in the last chapter of Chopin´s `The Awakening´:

`Despondency had come… when she walked down to the beach´. What are

her feelings about Robert, her husband, her children, etc…at this point?

Have they changed substancially along the novel? Is there any

foreshadowing in the passage of how the book is going to close? Compare

briefly this ending to the one in Hurston´s `Their Eyes Were Watching


All through the novel we can see how Edna feels depressed because

she is supposed to take care of her children and her husband considers that

she does not do it in the right way. I wonder how can her husband think

that she can be a good mother if he himself sees her as a child. This can be

one of the reasons why Edna does not feel capable of taking

care of her children. All her life she has been told that she has to be an

appendix for her husband and a good mother, but as her husband treats her

as a child, she is not prepared to take care of their children . Edna does not

like the role of “mother-woman” that she is supposed to perform: `In short,

Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman.´ She has the feeling that her

children are always on her back, acting as an extra weight that make her

life more difficult.

Her lack of interest for her children is accentuated when she

compares herself to Madame Ratignolle who is the perfect wife and

mother. Edna does not want to be defined by her children, she does not

want to sacrifice her whole existence because of them. This refusal to

sacrifice will be present from the beginning of the novel but will grow

stronger and in the end she will see her children as enemies that keep her in

slavery: `The children appeared before her like antagonists who had

overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul´s

slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to elude them´.

She feels that her children are the reason why she looses her

individuality. That is why she says: `I would give up the unessential[ … ]

but I wouldn´t give myself.´ She wants to be alone and this is not possible

when you have all the responsibilities of a family.

For Edna domestic life is a kind of death in life so she cuts the ties

that she has with the world until she is completely on her own. This she

will achieve when she finally commits suicide.

By the end of the novel the only person that she feels close to is

Robert but she is conscious that even Robert will leave her one day. She

knows that Robert is also too conventional and that he does not understand

her. Robert cannot understand why Edna wants to break with the

established roles of society. Even though he is very different from Léonce,

Edna´s husband, he does not understand Edna either. Robert is the only

person Edna will think positively about when she is about to enter the

ocean for the last time but, this thought does not stop her from commiting

suicide. I think that nothing could had helped her from doing it. We can say

that Edna has finally achieved what she wanted. Now she feels almost

completely alone and independent.

Léonces´s pretension to keep Edna under her thumb and treat her

like a child contributes to set her further and further from him. He only

sees her as one of his possessions and all the presents that he gives her

only have one reason: to make more attractive his possession.

When Edna is depressed he does not show concern for her reasons

but for the way it will affect the house and the maintenance of the role that

is socially acceptable for a family. Even when Edna tells him that she is

leaving home, he does not think of why she wants to do such a thing, he

only thinks that she is doing the unacceptable for society and will not

understand it.

I do not think that Edna´s feelings towards Robert, Léonce or her

children have changed substantially along the novel. I reckon that she has

achieved a better comprehension of her own feelings. At the beginning

those feelings were already there but she did not know how to name them.

It is only after this process of self-discovery she goes through that she can

be completely true to herself.

I am not sure whether this passage introduces the idea that she will

commit suicide because I cannot remember what did I think when I read it

for the first time. Now, after having read it several times I can say that

maybe it does. Above all because of the sentence: `But she knew a way to

elude them´ We can think that the way to elude them is to commit suicide.

The ending of `The Awakening´is completely different from the

ending in `Their Eyes Were Watching God´. Edna is not understood by

anybody in the society in which she lives and she takes the resolution of

committing suicide to escape from it. On the other hand, we have Janie,

who has a very hard life, very much harder than Edna´s in fact, and that

at the end is forgiven and understood by the people surrounding her. At

the end Janie can live in peace and enjoy her life after so many sorrows.

In both novels we see the protagonist trying to go over the proofs

that they find in their way. They do it in very different ways and so the

endings are very different. I think that Janie is more successful than Edna

in finding what she is looking for but Edna does it in her own way too.