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The Awakening Kate Chopin.

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1 The Awakening Kate Chopin

2 Background (handout) Author biography Social context of novel 1899
Today “fallen woman” concept social class and gender relationships societal response to novel

3 “local color” novel Variance of the roles of women and their relationships with men in different settings Customs and beliefs of Edna Pontellier’s society significant in relation to her psychological development Attitudes/tendencies in Creole characters in contrast with Edna’s (differences between speculation and action) References to religion – contrast in Edna, Creoles, and Kentucky Presbyterians

4 Setting Grand Isle, LA A much freer place

5 Setting New Orleans, LA Society freer than Kentucky but still with social constraints

6 Character Study – relationship to Edna
Females Mme. Adele Ratignolle – mother-woman Mlle. Reisz – her own person, misunderstood, artist Lady in Black – results of love (always following behind lovers) Mariequita – affairs don’t matter Mrs. Highcamp – female counterpart to Alcée Males Léonce – Edna married to escape her father, who was an alcoholic gambler Robert – contrasts with Alcée Alcée – contrasts with Robert Colonel – Léonce needs to “control” his woman Dr. Mandalet – intrinsically knows there is another man, but doesn’t tell Léonce

7 Literary Foils (representative of choice)
There is always choice. There is seldom perception of choice. Some choice make others harder or easier or necessary. Adele Edna Reisz

8 Imagery Nature parrot: “Go away” – Léonce wants to be left alone; Edna wants Léonce to go away expansive spaces: sea, meadow (freedom); confining spaces: pidgeon house Music Reisz – plays with Edna/s emotions Edna doesn’t want Victor to sing the song Robert sang

9 Imagery cont. Color (yellow & red) – love; anger – w/ Robert
dinner with yellow table cloth; happy color dinner party & beyond when she gets closer to destroying herself, the two colors blend

10 Symbolism The Sea (how you interpret this depends on interpretation of ending) freedom to Edna, when she learns to swim, death Birds/Wings caged bird or free bird; weak or strong mockingbird, parrot, pigeon Sleep/Dreams Edna sleeps a lot; when sleeps in house with Léonce, she can’t sleep; sleeps soundly at a house with Robert, wakes feeling refreshed; sleeps soundly alone

11 Symbolism cont. Violets Madame Reisz’s fake violets
way she moves is crippled – result of being alone? The Lovers (not married?) sooner or later, one is going to die; Lady in Black is result

12 Irony - the awakening as a trap
Is it better to have glimpsed and lost then never to have seen independence at all? What choices did Edna have? Not act By choice By necessity Act Affair w/ Robert shunned Left by Léonce (no $) Leave Léonce Alone (no $) Alcée Robert If she remains married or with a lover, she is back to the beginning of the Awakened circle (because she is man’s perception).

13 Point of View vs. Perspective
How does the point of view affect the novella? How would the novella be affected if it were narrated by Edna? Edna as Heroine Ending as result of Edna’s strengths or weaknesses Ending as victory or defeat Ending as result of other characters Edna as a realistic character

14 Themes Rebellion (defiance vs. defiant acts) Edna Alcée Reisz
Awakening (conscious vs. unconscious) understanding lacked before The Definition of Womanhood What qualities are valued as a woman? “home happy”?

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