"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin (Part 1)


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In this presentation, I have presented the biography of Kate Chopin and give some background information about the last novel she had written, "The Awakening." Summaries by chapter are also included, as well as the themes and symbolisms used in the novel. This is only the first part. The second part deals with the approaches in criticizing the novel better.

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"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin (Part 1)

  1. 1. Kate Chopin Kate O'Flaherty
  2. 2. *February 8, 1850 -St. Louis, Missouri -Eliza and Thomas O'Flaherty *1855 -Enters St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart *1861 -Confirmed in the Catholic Church by Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick *1863 -death of grand mother and half-brother, George *1867 -poems, essays, sketches, criticismsKate O’Flaherty
  3. 3. *1868 -graduated from Sacred Heart Academy *1869-1870 - “Emancipation: A Life Fable” *1870 -Married Oscar Chopin and moved to New Orleans Kate O’Flaherty
  4. 4. *1871-1878 -Jean, Oscar Charles, George, Frederick, and Felix *1879 -moved to Coulterville *1882 -Oscar dies of malaria, leaving Kate with a heavy debt and six young boys *1883-1884 -tried to run Oscar’s business *1885 -death of her mother; Dr. Kolbenheyer Kate Chopin
  5. 5. *1888 -read Maupassant and wrote “Euphrase” *1889 - “If it Might Be” * 1890-1892 -Joins the Wednesday Club, founded by Charlotte Stearns Eliot * 1891 -writes "Mrs. Mobry's Reason" and "A Shameful Affair” Kate Chopin
  6. 6. * 1894 -Writes "A Respectable Woman" (Vogue) in January, introducing the character of Gouvernail, who reappears in The Awakening *1897-1898 –wrote “The Awakening” *1899 The Awakening published by Herbert S. Stone and Company on April 22 *1901 -wrote and published only one story, "The Wood-Choppers."Kate Chopin
  7. 7. *1902 -published her last story, "Polly“ *1904 -Died from a cerebral hemorrhage on August 22, after collapsing at the World's Fair Kate Chopin
  8. 8. Left: KC’s Grave; Right: KC’s Statue
  9. 9. The Awakening  Originally entitled as “The Solitary Soul”  Deals about a woman’s transformation from an obedient, traditional wife and mother into a self-realized, sexually liberated and independent woman  Louisiana law still held that wives were the property of their husbands  Feminism
  10. 10.  Date written - 1899  Point of View – Third Person Omniscient  Genre – Tragedy  Writing Style – Controlled, perceptive, concise
  11. 11. Edna Pontellier (Presbyterian) ◦ She got a husband and two lovers ◦ Cannot married the other man she loves because of finding marriage too constricting ◦ trying to become a human being the best way she knows how
  12. 12.  Robert Lebrun ◦ handsome, charming, and seems to have fallen in love with Edna Pontellier ◦ Robert leaves the country for Mexico, where he plans to make his fortune and declares their love upon his return  Leonce Pontellier ◦ A ―perfect‖ husband ◦ he acts like Edna is his property ◦ Not Edna’s first kiss :D
  13. 13.  Adelle Ratignolle ◦ Edna’s close friend and almost complete opposite ◦ represents the ideal that Edna is supposed to imitate ◦ her character started chain reaction in Edna’s life  Mademoiselle Reisz ◦ A pianist and an odd ―creature‖ in the society ◦ Responsible for keeping Edna’s love for Robert alive
  14. 14.  Alcee Arobin ◦ introduces Edna to various physical pleasures ◦ Has a playboy reputation  Doctor Mandelet ◦ Family physician  Victor Lebrun ◦ Robert’s younger brother
  15. 15.  The Two Lovers ◦ Remain faceless and nameless ◦ Always appear in conjunction with the lady in black  The Lady in Black ◦ Vacationer at the Grand Isle ◦ Follows the young lovers around with patient, resigned solitude
  16. 16.  Etienne and Raoul  Beaudelet  Mariequita  Monsieur Ratignolle  Monsieur Farival  Mrs. Highcamp  Mr. and Mrs. Merriman  Miss Mayblunt and Mr. Gouvernail
  17. 17. Grand Isle and New Orleans during the late nineteenth century
  18. 18. Chapter 1  The novel opens on Grand Isle, a summer retreat for the wealthy French Creoles of New Orleans  The parrot repeats phrases in English and French while the mockingbird sings persistently  Léonce smokes a cigar and watches as his wife, Edna, strolls toward him from the beach, accompanied by the young Robert Lebrun, Mrs. Lebrun’s son
  19. 19. Chapter 2 Robert and Edna talk without pause, discussing the sights and people around them Robert: Plan to find his luck in Mexico Edna: Her childhood in Kentucky and her sister’s upcoming wedding
  20. 20. Chapter 3  Léonce is in great spirits when he returns from playing billiards late that evening  Edna experiences an unfamiliar oppression  The next morning, Léonce departs for a week-long business trip. Before he leaves, he gives Edna some spending money and says good-bye to the small
  21. 21. Chapter 4  Léonce cannot explain why he always feels dissatisfied with Edna’s treatment of their sons, but he perceives a difference between his wife and the other women on Grand Isle  Edna’s friend Adèle Ratignolle, who embodies all the grace and charm of a romantic heroine, is the prime example of the mother-woman
  22. 22. Chapter 5  As Robert sits with Edna and Adèle by the shore, he tells Edna of his days as Adèle’s attendant  Although Robert devotes himself to a different woman every summer, his playful attentions to Edna differ from his treatments of past women  Edna declines Robert’s suggestion that they go for a swim
  23. 23. Chapter 6 She is slowly beginning to think of herself as an individual with a relationship to the outer world, and the sound of the sea draws her soul to ―inward contemplation‖ and wisdom that are disturbing in their newness and depth.
  24. 24. Chapter 7  Throughout the summer at Grand Isle, her reserve gradually erodes because of her increasingly close friendship with the candid Adèle  ―Sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided.‖ - Edna  The relationships that most absorbed Edna were her intense, unrequited crushes on men  She considers herself ―uneven and
  25. 25. Chapter 8  After Edna’s confession of her former passions, Adèle worries that Edna might take Robert’s attentions seriously and warns him to let her alone.  Adèle reminds him that if he were indeed to court married women with any seriousness, then he would ruin his reputation as a trusted gentleman  Robert launches into stories of a well-known seducer, Alcée Arobin
  26. 26. Chapter 9  A few weeks after Adèle’s conversation with Robert, Madame Lebrun and her renters hold a Saturday-night celebration to entertain their weekend guests  Edna’s response to Adele and Mademoiselle Reisz’s piano piece  Robert suggests that the party go for a nighttime swim.
  27. 27. Chapter 10  As the crowd makes its way from the party down to the beach, Edna wonders why Robert has distanced himself from her  Despite the attempts of the other guests to teach her, she is still unable to swim  Robert runs after Edna as she makes her way home, and she asks if he
  28. 28. Chapter 11 Léonce returns and urges Edna to go to bed, but she tells him not to wait for her— she will stay outside in the hammock
  29. 29. Chapter 12  Edna wakes up after a few hours of restless sleep  The two lovers and the lady in black, are on their way to the wharf to take the boat to the isle of Chênière Caminada for Sunday mass  Edna and Robert together
  30. 30. Chapter 13  In the middle of the church service, Edna feels drowsy and troubled  Edna takes a rest on the cottage of Madame Antoine  They rest together under a tree, listening to the Antoine’s stories until the sun has set and they must return home.
  31. 31. Chapter 14  When Edna returns, Adèle reports that Edna’s younger son, Etienne, has refused to go to bed  Léonce was worried when Edna did not return from the Chênière after mass, but once he was assured that Edna was merely resting at Madame Antoine’s and that Madame Antoine’s son would see her home, he left for the club on business  ―Ah! Si tu savais . . .‖
  32. 32. Chapter 15  One evening at dinner, several people inform Edna that Robert is leaving for Mexico that evening  Mrs. Lebrun sends a message requesting that Edna sit with her until Robert leaves, but Edna replies that she doesn’t feel well and wants to stay in  Robert himself then visits Edna and bids her good-bye and is unable to say when he will return
  33. 33. Chapter 16  Edna is constantly possessed by thoughts of Robert.  Edna’s jealousy  When Edna learns that Léonce saw Robert in New Orleans before his departure for Mexico, she questions him extensively about their meeting  Mademoiselle Reisz gives her Mrs. Lebrun’s address in New Orleans
  34. 34. Chapter 17  Léonce takes great pride in his possessions and enjoys walking around his lavishly decorated New Orleans home and examining his household goods  She replies that she was not at home to receive visitors, nor did she leave the servants with an excuse with which they might placate her guests  She throws her wedding ring to the floor and tries unsuccessfully to crush it.
  35. 35. Chapter 18  The next morning Edna declines Léonce’s request that she meet him in town and instead tries to work on some sketches.  Edna informs her friend that she wants to take drawing lessons and presents her portfolio, seeking praise and encouragement in the matter  She pities Adèle’s ―colorless existence‖ and ―blind contentment‖
  36. 36. Chapter 19  Léonce, severely displeased by Edna’s refusal to submit to his demands, scolds his wife for spending her days painting instead of caring for the ―comfort of her family.‖  Léonce sometimes speculates that Edna suffers from some mental disturbance, and he leaves Edna alone to paint and sing Robert’s song to herself as she dreams of the sea and Grand Isle
  37. 37. Chapter 20  Edna visits Madame Lebrun in search of Mademoiselle Reisz’s new address  Edna is depressed to hear that Robert enclosed no message for her  She asks about Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Lebrun gives her the pianist’s new address  ―Some way she doesn’t seem like the same woman.‖ –Victor Lebrun
  38. 38. Chapter 21  Mademoiselle mentions nonchalantly that Robert has sent her a letter from Mexico, in which he has written almost entirely about Edna  She mentioned that Robert requested to play for Edna ―That Impromptu of Chopin’s‖  Edna as an artist  ―Isolde’s song‖
  39. 39. Chapter 22  Léonce expresses his concern about Edna to Doctor Mandelet  ―She’s got some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women.‖ - Leonce  ―A wedding is one of the most lamentable spectacles on earth.‖ - Edna  Suspecting a secret affair
  40. 40. Chapter 23  Edna decides to sketch her father in her studio  The Colonel takes Edna’s painting very seriously, posing patiently for her sketches  ―We wouldn’t have anything to say to each other.‖ –Edna  Chit-chat   ―I hope to heaven it isn’t Alcée Arobin.‖ - Dr. Mandalet
  41. 41. Chapter 24  Argument about Janet’s wedding  Colonel criticizes Leonce’s lack of control and authority over Edna  Edna suddenly changed her attitude towards Leonce  She find ―radiant peace‖ on the absence of her husband
  42. 42. Chapter 25  The initial restfulness and ease Edna feels after the departure of her family quickly dissipates  One day, Alcée Arobin and Mrs. Highcamp, whom Edna had run into recently while at the races with her father, call on her to accompany them to the track  A few days later Alcée and Edna attend the races alone  Infidelity towards Robert
  43. 43. Chapter 26  Alcée writes Edna an elaborate letter of apology  Edna plans to rent a small house around the corner, which she will pay for with her winnings from the racetrack and the profits from her sketches  As usual, Mademoiselle Reisz gives Edna Robert’s latest letter  Real feelings
  44. 44. Chapter 27  ―The bird that attempts to fly above tradition and prejudice must have strong wings, or it will ―fall back to earth, battered and bruised‖ - Mademoiselle Reisz  Edna’s FIRST KISS :*
  45. 45. Chapter 28  After Alcée leaves, Edna weeps  The thought of Robert and of her love for him, growing ever ―quicker, fiercer‖ and ―more overpowering‖ that affects her  Her kiss with Alcee was not motivated by love
  46. 46. Chapter 29  Moving to the pigeon house  Edna in her old dress and kerchief  Alcee begs to see her sooner, and she scolds him but laughs as she does so, looking at him ―with eyes that at once gave him the courage to wait and made it torture to wait.‖
  47. 47. Chapter 30  The dinner Edna hosts in celebration of her new home is small and exclusive  In her magnificent gown, Edna seems a woman who ―rules, who looks on, who stands alone.‖  Someone begs Victor to sing and he accepts dramatically, looking at Edna and beginning, ―Ah! Si tu savais!‖
  48. 48. Chapter 31  Alcée stays with Edna after everyone has left and assists her as she shuts up the big house. He accompanies her to the pigeon house, which he has filled with flowers as a surprise. He tells her he will leave, but when he feels her beginning to respond to his caresses he sits beside her and covers her shoulders with kisses until she becomes ―supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties.‖
  49. 49. Chapter 32 Léonce writes a letter of stern disapproval in response to Edna’s move In her husband’s continued absence, Edna feels her sense of individuality and spirituality growing
  50. 50. Chapter 33 Adele confesses to Edna that she worries about the impulsive and reckless nature of her actions, adding that perhaps she should not be living alone in the little house Seeing Robert Alcee’s photograph
  51. 51. Chapter 34 After they have eaten, they sit in the parlor, and Edna questions Robert about the young Mexican girl whose gift of a tobacco pouch has become the topic of discussion Robert ---Edna--- Alcee
  52. 52. Chapter 35  ―She had abandoned herself to Fate and awaited the consequences with indifference.‖  She awakes each morning in a state of hope and expectation, but retires each evening in despair  Edna and Alcee
  53. 53. Chapter 36  One day Edna bumps into Robert in her favorite garden café, which is nestled in the suburbs of New Orleans  She emphasizes that she is not afraid to share her opinions, however ―unwomanly‖ he may think them. He responds by accusing her of cruelty, of wishing him to ―bare a wound for the pleasure of looking at it, without the intention or power of healing it.‖
  54. 54. Chapter 37 Edna begins to feel uneasy as memories of her own childbirth experiences surface but seem removed, vague, and undefined ―Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children!‖ – Adele
  55. 55. Chapter 38 A talk with Dr. Mandelet She begins to say that no one has any right to oblige her to do what she does not wish, excepting, perhaps, children ―Good-by—because I love you,‖ – Robert Lebrun
  56. 56. Chapter 39 ―Bonding‖ with Victor and Mariequita The night before, Edna realized EVERYTHING Edna committed suicide by drowning herself into the sea, naked
  57. 57.  Exposition ◦ Edna is stuck in a loveless marriage  Conflict ◦ Robert Lebrun came into the scene  Complication ◦ Robert was awakened that he was in a wrong affair; Edna became independent
  58. 58. Climax ◦Edna and Robert met again Denouement ◦Robert left Edna forever Conclusion ◦Edna drowns into the sea
  59. 59. SYMBOLISMS Edna Pontellier ◦Typifies an individual who is afraid to express himself because of the criticisms and judgments he might received from society ◦Symbolizes unstable mind; pleasure
  60. 60. Grand Isle ◦The quest in finding Edna’s real self and identity
  61. 61.  Birds ◦ The parrot (Edna) and the mocking bird (Mademoiselle Reisz) ◦ ―The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.― - Mademoiselle Reisz ◦ Bird with the broken wing
  62. 62.  Sea ◦ Empowerment ◦ Lover  ―"The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.― ◦ Ending her life where it truly began
  63. 63. SYMBOLISMS Music of the piano ◦Edna’s unconscious thoughts, desires, and feelings
  64. 64. The Two Lovers ◦Edna and Leonce ◦Edna and Robert ◦Edna and Alcee ◦Young love accepted by society
  65. 65.  The Black Lady ―Love does not always last forever.‖
  66. 66.  Solitude as a Consequence of Independence Edna realizes that independent ideas cannot always translate into a simultaneously self-sufficient and socially acceptable existence.
  67. 67.  Self- expression ◦ Once her Creole friends show her that it is okay to speak and think about one’s own feelings, Edna begins to acknowledge, name, define, and articulate her emotions. ◦ Artwork
  68. 68.  Freedom ◦ Withdraws from social obligations that are important to her husband ◦ Moves to ―pigeon house.‖ ◦ Ventures out on her own and discovers people and places she would have previously ignored
  69. 69.  Free will ◦ Her choice to remain in a relationship with Léonce would result in her continuing dissatisfaction with life ◦ No matter what choices she makes, Edna can never be totally free within the confines of the society in which she lives.
  70. 70. Themes  Sex ◦ The choices Edna makes in her life result, largely, from her rediscovery of sexual pleasure ◦ Her unfulfilled love for Robert and her loveless affair with Alcée demonstrate to her that love and sex are entirely separate entities
  71. 71. Themes Public vs. Private Lives ◦The public is not ready to embrace the private Edna, and Edna is unwilling to yield to public sentiment
  72. 72. Themes Repression *will be discussed further in Psychoanalytic Approach*