Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening in 1899. The story is set in New Orleans towards the end of the 19th century when society was quite different, especially for women. The Awakening was one of the first English novels to explore and challenge views on marriage, motherhood, independence and femininity.
The book follows the story of Edna, a woman caught up in an unhappy marriage who rebels against everything that is expected of her as a wife and mother. You can download a free copy of The Awakening PDF by clicking the button below.
Title: The Awakening
Author: Kate Chopin
Format: A4 PDF
Release Date: March 2006
Copyright Status: Public Domain In The USA
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The Awakening Q&A
Is The Awakening Hard To Read?
No, The Awakening isn’t a hard book to read. The language isn’t difficult and, with the book being just over 100 A4 pages long, it takes the average reader only a few hours to read.
What Is The Main Idea Of The Awakening?
The Awakening explores what life was like for women in the early 19th century. In the story we meet two women who are vastly different in their experiences. First, there is Edna who is unhappy in her marriage and she finds her husband and her life with her children very unfulfilling. Then there is Adéle Ratignolle, who is shown as the ideal wife and mother. Unlike Edna however, she embraces her role and loves and enjoys her family and her life.
Depending on your viewpoint, it could be argued that Edna’s choices are very selfish because she is willing to sacrifice her family to satisfy her own desires without any thought of the consequences. Likewise, many argue that Edna’s experience is justified because she finds her freedom and her true self.
Why Was The Awakening Controversial?
When The Awakening was originally published it wasn’t very well received because it was seen to be immoral and scandalous both because Edna cheats on her husband but also because she abandons her children, her husband, and her responsibilities towards her family. After The Awakening was originally published Kate Chopin didn’t go on to publish another novel, in part because her next book was canceled but also because she had health problems. She, unfortunately, died five years later at the age of 54.
What Did Edna Sacrifice In The Awakening?
In The Awakening, Edna sacrifices and abandons her children and her husband in pursuit of her own independence and happiness. She also likely sacrificed her standing within the community by having an affair with Alicée Arobin. Ultimately Edna sacrifices her life.
Is There A The Awakening movie?
Unfortunately, there haven’t been many adaptations of The Awakening. There however was one movie called Grand Isle that was made in 1991 that is a faithful adaptation of the book. It was directed by Mary Lambert and starred Kelly McGillis as Edna Pontellier. The movie was made-for-cable so it was never released on the big screen.
The Awakening Summary
The Awakening follows the story of a 28-year-old woman named Edna. She is married to a man named Léonce Pontellier who is a successful 40-year-old businessman in New Orleans. Edna also has two beautiful children. Although Léonce loves his wife and his children he doesn’t spend much time with them because he is often away on business and is fully preoccupied with his work.
The story of The Awakening begins with the family vacationing on Grand Isle at a vacation resort managed by Madame Leburn and her sons, Victor and Robert. Edna’s friend Adéle Ratignolle is also at the resort and Edna spends a lot of her time with her. Adéle loves her husband and children and centers her life around them – Adéle represents the perfect Victorian wife and mother and she oozes elegance and charm.
Over the course of the vacation, Léonce is often away and Edna soon becomes friends with Robert Leburn. Robert is a 26-year-old man who is charming and handsome and Edna thoroughly enjoys his company. Slowly Edna and Robert start becoming closer and closer. Adéle notices the growing relationship between Robert and Edna and she warns Edna that society might start seeing their friendship as an affair instead of a simple platonic friendship.
Edna becomes more and more drawn to Robert and she starts to become aware of her own desire for independence and freedom. The excitement and joy of spending time with Robert starts to awaken many dreams and desires that Edna had when she was young.
Under the guise of work, Robert decides to leave Grand Isle when he realizes that he and Edna have fallen in love. He knows that their relationship is doomed to fail because Edna is married.
When the summer vacation ends, the family returns to New Orleans. Instead of taking care of her family, Edna ignores her responsibilities and spends most of her time painting. Léonce starts to become worried about Edna and asks their family doctor, Doctor Mandelet, for advice. Doctor Mandelet suspects that Edna’s behavior could be the result of an affair but hides this from Léonce. Instead, he suggests that Léonce allow Edna’s behavior to play out because intervening could simply make the situation worse.
In the meantime, Edna becomes friends with an older woman named Mademoiselle Reisz. Mademoiselle Reisz is unmarried and has no children. She is a very talented pianist and encourages Edna to pursue her passion for painting. To Edna, Mademoiselle Reisz represents the freedom that she craves and she shows Edna what her life could have been like if she had been independent without a family and the responsibilities that come with that. She becomes Edna’s confidante and she learns about Edna’s love for Robert.
With both Léonce and her children away from home, Edna completely rejects her former life and she moves to a house of her own, devoting all her time to painting. Even though she still loves Robert, she begins an affair with Alicée Arobin, a charming and seductive man who enjoys pursuing married women.
Edna learns that Mademoiselle Reisz is in contact with Robert and that she receives letters from him often. Mademoiselle Reisz reveals that even though Robert is away he hasn’t forgotten about Edna.
One day Robert returns to New Orleans and although initially, he avoids Edna he finally confesses that he still loves her and that his trip was simply an excuse to avoid their relationship because she is the wife of another man.
We then learn that Edna’s friend Adéle is going through a very difficult childbirth and she calls on Edna for help. Edna leaves Robert but begs him to wait for her to return. Adéle senses that the relationship between Edna and Robert has become very intense and she begs Edna to think about her children and her family.
On her way home, Edna is accompanied by Doctor Mandelet who asks her to come and see him because he is worried about her and the consequences of her actions. Edna begins to feel uneasy and she starts to second guess her actions.
When Edna gets home she finds a note from Robert simply saying, “I love you, Goodbye, because I love you”.
Edna is devastated. Not only because Robert is gone forever but also because she realizes that ultimately Robert wouldn’t have been able to fulfill her desires and dreams either. She suddenly feels completely alone.
The next day she returns to Grand Isle where she swims out into the sea. She swims so far out that it is impossible for her to return to shore because her strength is gone.
The Awakening is a story about a woman’s journey of self-discovery and the pursuit of her own desires and happiness without considering the consequences. Although it was written by Kate Chopin in 1899 it is still relevant today and it is definitely worth reading. Download a free copy of The Awakening PDF here.