Saturday, 26 February 2011
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Awakening was a novel which I knew nothing about when I added it to my ‘American Classics list’. When I did eventually get around to reading it I was firstly surprised at how short it is (around 100 pages) and that also the plot falls under the ‘bored housewife’ genre.
Of course I’m joking about the bored housewife genre bit and I certainly don’t mean to sound derogatory but you know the kinds of books I mean. I’m talking about women like Madame Bovary, women who are trapped in their marriage by the constraints of their social world and time period. BTW I did try to find other literary examples but alas I got mostly filth when I typed ‘bored housewife’s in literature’ into google.
While Bovary deals with her situation by delving into her own fantasy world, the protagonist in The Awakening, Edna Pontellier also tries to carve her own life away from her roles as a wife and mother. The catalyst for Edna is her own 'Awakening' when she suddenly cannot bear to keep her own passions (either for music, art or sexual) within any longer.
While I can see how ground-breaking the novel must have been and I can sympathise with Edna, I did not enjoy the actual reading experience of The Awakening. I found the prose while quite dreamlike and full of imagery also quite dull and for such a short book I struggled to read to the end.
I didn’t struggle to connect with Edna, I could see how she wanted to be something other than a wife and mother in that time period. I could see the point I just didn’t enjoy the writing style.
This is one that really you have to make your own mind up about and check out other reviews, many of which are far more favourable than mine.
Posted by Jess