Instances of Awakening in Chopin’s Novel
1. The social context of Chopin’s novel
Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, is set in the late nineteenth century, a time of great social changes. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and had brought about massive changes in the way people lived and worked. There was a growing middle class, and women were beginning to assert their rights and place in society.
In the novel, we meet Edna Pontellier, a young woman who is married to a wealthy man, Leonce Pontellier. She has two children, but she is not content with her life. She feels stifled by the conventions of society and longs for something more.
Edna starts to awaken to her own desires and needs and begins to question the roles that society expects her to play. She has an affair with a younger man, Robert Lebrun, and starts to think about leaving her husband and living on her own.
This causes consternation among her family and friends, who think she is losing her mind. But Edna is determined to live the life she wants, even if it means giving up everything she has.
2. Instances of awakening in the novel
There are several instances of awakening in Chopin’s novel. Here are some of the most important ones:
2. 1. Victoria, Queen
The first instance of awakening comes when Edna reads a newspaper article about Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The article talks about how the queen has ruled for fifty years and how she is loved by her subjects. It also mentions how she has remained true to herself despite all the changes that have taken place during her reign.
Reading this article makes Edna realize that she too has remained true to herself, even though she has been married for six years and has two children. She begins to feel like she is living in a prison and decides that she wants to be free like the queen.
2. 2. Industrial Revolution
The second instance of awakening comes when Edna sees the effects of the Industrial Revolution firsthand. She goes to visit her friend Adele Ratignolle, who is pregnant and lives in a poor part of town. Adele’s husband works in a factory and is away all day, so she is left alone with her children.
Seeing how Adele lives makes Edna realize that she does not want to live like that. She does not want to be dependent on a man for her livelihood or be confined to the home all day taking care of children. She decides that she wants more out of life than just being a wife and mother.
2. 3. Women
The third instance of awakening comes when Edna meets Mademoiselle Reisz, a pianist who lives in her building. Mademoiselle Reisz is a strong and independent woman who does not conform to society’s expectations. She is also a talented musician, and she encourages Edna to pursue her own talent for painting.
Meeting Mademoiselle Reisz makes Edna realize that she does not have to live according to society’s rules. She can be her own person and do what she wants with her life.
2. 4. Edna Pontellier
The fourth instance of awakening comes when Edna finally realizes that she is not happy in her marriage. She has been having an affair with Robert Lebrun, and she knows that she does not love her husband, Leonce. She decides to leave him and move into her own house by the sea.
This is a turning point for Edna, as she finally realizes that she is not content to live a life that does not make her happy. She is determined to live on her own terms from now on.
2. 5. Leonce Pontellier
The fifth instance of awakening comes when Edna’s husband, Leonce, realizes that he has been neglecting his wife. He has been so focused on his work and making money that he has not paid attention to Edna’s needs. He decides to take a break from work and spend more time with his wife.
This is a turning point for Leonce, as he finally realizes that there is more to life than work. He also begins to see Edna as a person, rather than just a wife and mother.
2. 6. Adele Pontellier
The sixth instance of awakening comes when Edna’s friend, Adele Ratignolle, realizes that she does not want to be a mother anymore. She has just given birth to her third child, and she is exhausted both physically and emotionally. She tells Edna that she wants to leave her husband and move away from New Orleans.
This is a turning point for Adele, as she finally realizes that she does not want to live the life that society expects of her. She is tired of being a wife and mother and wants to live on her own terms for once.
2. 7. Robert Lebrun
The seventh instance of awakening comes when Robert Lebrun finally realizes that he loves Edna Pontellier. He has been trying to forget about her, but he cannot stop thinking about her. He decides to tell her how he feels, but she rejects him because she is moving away from New Orleans. This is a turning point for Robert, as he finally realizes that he loves Edna and will never forget her even though she is gone from his life.
The instances of awakening in Chopin’s novel are important because they show the characters’ journey towards self-discovery. They also highlight the social changes that were taking place in the late nineteenth century.
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