The Awakening: Chopin Glorifying Edna’s Fatal Situ
ationThe title, The Awakening, implies that a rebirth from a stupor into self-
awareness is something good. One would expect that someone who was once
sleeping is better off and can see more clearly when he is fully awake. But
this expectation is exactly opposite to Edna’s condition. She is not awake. She
is eventually drawn by the sea and drowns herself. She was deceived. Edna
fails to see that the connection of a mother to her children is far more
important than the enjoyment of a passion which experience has taught her. By
the title of this book, Chopin is glorifying Edna’s fatal situation.
Edna does not exist and never will. It is useless and perhaps dangerous to make
judgments about these characters. Assuming that their situations and the
outcomes of their behavior are applicable to our own lives is risky. Her
characters are fictional. The combinations of their actions and outcomes are
entirely an invention of Kate Chopin reflecting what she wants to teach her
readers. If Chopin has successfully convinced a reader that the characters are
real or that they could be real, the reader is likely to apply what he has
learned from this fable in his or her own life. With these assumptions in mind,
one must apply the task of figuring out what she wants people to believe and how
to behave as a result of reading her book. Edna, whose husband has held her
like a piece of furniture, a piece of personal property, suddenly becomes aware
she is a human being. Leonce certainly errs if he only values his wife as a
piece of furniture. There is nothing wrong if he believes her to be his most
prized possession. The difficulty is that Edna does not look at him in this way.
They should have appraised each other’s value with mutual respect.
I would recommend this book to others. It was well written and did not try to
cover up the truth about the life of a woman in an extra-marital affair.