Analysis on "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin

Term Paper, 2013

17 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Itta Olivera (Author)



1. Introduction: “The Awakening” – An Overview

2. The Author

3. Main Character in “The Awakening” – Edna Pontellier

4. Men in the novel

5. The Relationship between Edna and Robert

6. “The Awakening” – Meaning of the Title

7. Conclusion

8. References

1. Introduction: “The Awakening” – An Overview

Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” tells the story of a young married mother, who doesn’t want to achieve the expectations of the Victorian age. She falls in love with another man, gets to know the pleasant side of life and starts being independent with diverging from the norm. Before focusing on the contents of the novel, the author Kate Chopin will be described. This paper deals with the extraordinary character of Edna Pontellier and her relationship to her true love Robert Lebrun. The main character’s development and the relationship to Robert will be analyzed. Firstly, Edna’s character and her changing will be described. She has many different traits which alter during the novel. They will be demonstrated in the second part of this analysis. I will go on elaborating on the men in the novel. Furthermore Edna’s relationship to Robert will be described in relation to a meaningful song which appears in the story. The sixth chapter deals with the title of Chopin’s work.

After delineating Edna’s life in connection to the topics mentioned above, I will summarize the aspects and give an abstract.

2. The Author

Chronology Kate Chopin

1850 Catherine O’Flaherty (later Kate Chopin) born 12 July in St. Louis, Missouri.

1855 Thomas O’Flaherty, father of Catherine, dies.

1868 Graduates from the St. Louis Academy of Sacred Heart.

1870 9 June, marries Oscar Chopin in St. Louis; the couple honeymoon in Europe until September; October they move to New Orleans.

1871 Jean Chopin, Kate and Oscar’s first son, born on 22 May in New Orleans.

1873 Oscar, Jr. (second son), born in St. Louis.

1874 George (third son), born in St. Louis.

1876 Frederick (fourth son), born in St. Louis.

1878 Felix (fifth son), born in New Orleans.

1879 Lelia (only daughter), born in New Orleans. Oscar’s business fails. Family moves to Cloutierville, Louisiana.

1882 December, Oscar dies.

1884 Kate moves her family to St. Louis.

1885 June, Eliza O’Flaherty, Kate’s mother dies.

1889 27 October, first published story: “A Point at Issue”, appears in St. Louis Post Dispatch.

1890 September, At Fault, Chopin’s first novel, published at her expense; writes her second novel, “Young Dr. Goose,” between 4 May and 27 November; later destroys it.

1894 March, Bayou Folk, first volume of collected short stories.

1897 November, A Night in Acadie, second volume of collected stories.

1898 18 or 19 July writes “The Storm”.

1899 22 April, The Awakening; storm of critical and personal abuse follows.

1904 22 August, dies in St. Louis.

(Skaggs, 1985, p.0)

It is not clear when exactly Kate Chopin was born. Some sources say that she was born on 8 February 1950; some say it was the 12 July 1950 and some say it was the 8 February 1951.

Katherine O'Flaherty was born on one of the dates mentioned above in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents were Thomas and Eliza Faris. Thomas O'Flaherty was a successful businessman; he had emigrated from Galway, Ireland when he was a young man (Walker, 1993, p.3). Katherine's mother was of French descent; therefore Kate grew up bilingual and multicultural. Her culture influenced her works: some stories are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle (Louisiana), such as "At fault" and "The Awakening". Katherine lived there for a few years with her husband and children (Skaggs, 1985, p.0). There she got to know the Creole culture (Walker, 1993, p.5).

Katherine O'Flaherty had four sisters and brothers who all died young aged. Also her father died early: he was hit by a train during her childhood (Walker, 1993, p.4). Katherine started to develop her sense of writing since she was a child: her maternal great-grandmother Madame Charlesville was of French-Canadian descent. She undertook Kate's instruction in writing - also in French - and told her many stories. She often talked about the role of women in her ancestry (Walker, 1993, p.3). The fact that Katherine grew up among single, independent women influenced her works: in many of Katherine's works women play an important role (Koloski, 1996, p.xii). “The Awakening” tells the story about a young mother who breaks out of the expectations of the Victorian era. It is not clear if “The Awakening” retells Kate Chopin's own story of life:

"Readers and critics have for years speculated about the extent to which marriage in The Awakening is based on Kate O'Flaherty Chopin's own marriage. In the novel, Edna Pontellier becomes increasingly estranged from her merchant-husband, who regards her, although affectionately, as property. After a period of withdrawal from her duties as a wife and mother, she moves out of her husband's house altogether and goes about the city of New Orleans much as would a single woman. Because The Awakening draws upon Chopin's experience of New Orleans Creole culture, readers have been tempted to see the novel as a negative comment upon her own married life in that environment."

(Walker, 1993, p.5).


Excerpt out of 17 pages


Analysis on "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin
University of Flensburg
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analysis, awakening, kate, chopin
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Itta Olivera (Author), 2013, Analysis on "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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