Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

I'm including this book in my list for the Women Unbound Challenge because it has been categorized as feminist fiction. However, I don't agree that it is.

I loved this story for the beautiful writing and the intricate way of exploring the life of a tragic woman. I saw this as a tragic story, not as the example that feminists having been using it as for decades.

The feminist themes are there, no doubt, but I don't think that Chopin intended it to be used as an example of what a woman in a similar situation should do.

The Awakening is a story of a woman who feels bound and oppressed by her marriage and by motherhood. This stuff was never for her and she tries to escape them. I don't agree with her ways of escaping them, especially what she did to her children! Is that what feminists want to use as an example? I don't want to give too much away for someone who hasn't read this, but her actions in this book are too extreme.

Seeing this simply as a tragic story of a selfish, oppressed woman, it is wonderful. At times I felt for this character and at times I was frustrated with her. The writing was, as I said, beautiful. Chopin really had a knack for conveying emotions without much dialogue.


Lisa said...

I first read this when I was in college. Too young, I think, to really understand what it might feel like to feel trapped in a marriage. I think I need to re-read it to better understand and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

huh, I understand your point abt this book is not a good example of what a woman *should* do but that, in my opinion, does not mean this is NOT an excellent example of feminist fiction. I believe it is and most definitely WAS a new and shocking exposure to the idea that women could feel trapped. That social conventions limited women. That some women cannot see any ways OUT. I haven't studied this novel in any academic sense so I don't know what 'they' say it is supposed to *mean*, but I heartily classify this as important women's study novel. I agree Chopin was a beautiful writer and I found it so sad that she was treated so hostilely for this book. Which is another reason it is/was important. (my own review last year is a bunch of unanswered questions - I was too frustrated to write a straight review)
I'm so glad I stopped by here! I do love to read reviews that are not all 'This was good." Thank you.