The Awakening by Kate Chopin

chopinThe Awakening by Kate Chopin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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A luscious, lyrical account of a woman at the turn of the 20th century Louisiana who realizes she’s more than someone’s wife and mother. An artist, also, with the drive and determination to carve out independence to create and to become the person she missed out on before marriage and motherhood – Edna finds that she wanted Life. She’s also desperately in love with another man, yet she’s not willing to be possessed by him either. She wants to have a sense of control of her own life. However, she was already controlled by her position of being married to a wealthy businessman, the social stigma, expectations, and obligations that came it that position. She was depressed, within a darkness she wanted lifted. She was somehow unable to reach peace. She understood it, a little, but she couldn’t speak of it to anyone. Back then, the situation had no name – to men, it was the trait of being a woman. A “mood”. But it was more, it was the desire to feel life and women had no say once married how they were to live unless they wished to lose their status and comfort. Widows and spinsters with whom she befriended understood their lot and seemed to accept it.

Written in that era, Chopin set the literary world upside down by depicting such issues of a woman who comes to realize the value of living for herself, through her talents, through her own sexuality beyond procreation. It wasn’t unheard of back then, just unspeakable.

Chopin’s account was full of details. Descriptions of the water, the food, Edna’s feelings – all amazing in depth and richness. She put the reader so close to Edna. I felt I was walking along side her much of the time.

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