Essay – The Awakening by Kate Chopin Analysis

The book, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is not so much a love story as it is a story of one woman. Mrs. Pontellier was a woman with emotional needs. Her needs include material, sexual, intimacy, and the need to be wanted or needed. Among Léonce Pontellier, Alcée Arobin, and Robert Lebrun, she pursues and meets her needs.

Although Léonce Pontellier didn’t seem to play a part in her life, he did. He provided her materialistic needs. Just as she dreaded, he was her husband in the world’s eyes. It is plain to see that Edna finds marriage a revolting institution from this quote: ‘Her marriage to Léonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate…. The acme of bliss, which would have been a marriage to a tragedian, was not for her in this world. As the devoted wife of a man… she felt she would take her place …[thus] closing the portals forever behind her upon the realm of romance and dreams.’p18 So that leaves the problem of romance and dreams. Who filled this world that she seems to have missed?

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Alcée Arobin was a suave, seductive man. He thrived on lust, yet at a socially acceptable scale. Therefore, when he commenced in sharing time with Mrs. Pontellier at the races and such, it didn’t appear sinister. ‘He sometimes talked in a way that astonished her at first and brought the crimson in to her face; in a way that pleased her at last, appealing to the animalism that stirred impatiently within her.’p78 By defining ‘animalism’ as the innate desire to be sexually pleasing, or sexual, we can see that Arobin pleased the sexual yearning of Edna Pontellier.

It is clear that Mrs. Pontellier doesn’t really feel affection for Arobin because after their time together, her thoughts commented that ‘there was a dull pang of regret because it was not the kiss of love which had inflamed her, because it was not love which had held this cup of life to her lips.’p84 It was the kiss of lust that kept them together.

The Awakening is a book of Mrs. Edna Pontellier’s changes. Originally, Mrs. Pontellier had only her husband to fill her needs. By the closing stages of the story she had broken vows and social tradition to bring about more emotional stability within her.


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Essay – The Awakening by Kate Chopin Analysis. (2018, Jul 02). Retrieved from