The Awakening

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade April 2001

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The Awakening "This book should be required of all high school students" The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, in a classic work of literature that should be required reading for all high school students. It truly depicts internal struggles of women in the early nineteenth century through its main character, Edna Pontellier. At the time of the novel's publication in 1899, it was seen as inappropriate literary trash. However, this was not so. Kate Chopin was simply writing material that was farther advanced than her time period. She truly depicted the struggles of women at at time in which they were meerly property of their husbands and had only basic rights. The quote "to be great it so be misunderstood" by Ralph Waldo Emerson truly describes Chopin's life. She was rejected from literary society and her novel was banned from further publication and circulation during her lifetime. However, after her death in 1904 her book was rediscovered and put back into print.

By the 1970's and 1980's Chopin's "The Awakening" was considered a classic work of literature and was introduced into schools for educational porpoises.

The Awakening should be required student reading because of its high literary quality and its rich social history. Through Edna Pontellier the reader sees how women of the late 1800's are viewed in society. Edna was bound by marriage to Leonce Pontellier. There marriage was not of love but of simple connivence and money. Edna said, in speaking of her husband "he provides for me, giving me whatever I need or desire". There marriage at first may have been out of love but turned into a marriage of simple connivence. During this time marriages were final, divorce not being an option. This fact was the major focus in the story, Edna finding her true love with Robert and not her husband Leonce. Edna was torn between her obligation to her husband and her urging to be with her true love. Edna was a truly selfish person. She did love her children, but thought them a nuisance and sent them to live with there grandparents. While her husband was away on long business trips she spent much time with robert and other men behind his back. When she finally realized that she had truly found true love in Robert she was in a dilemma. Divorce was not an option and neither was true happiness with her husband. Deciding to simply run away from her problems she commits suicide by swimming out in to the ocean and drowning herself. The quote "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem" comes to mind when thinking of Edna's choice to kill herself. This was a selfish decision because it solved her problems but left her family and friends to pick up all the pieces of her shattered life.

The Awakening should be required of all high school students because it provides great social and literary history while instilling a underlying moral message against foolish mistakes and suicide.