Reviews on “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin
April 30, 2013
This paper is a discussion regarding two reviews of The Awakening. A woman’s view of The Awakening compared to a man’s is very different. Katy (female reviewer) states, “She went a bit further than I would be comfortable with. She became so focused on herself that she seemed to neglect her children and didn’t consider the consequences of her choices” (Katy 2010). The male reviewer (Brother Odd) on the other hand had no sympathy for Edna and in his words he felt Edna was, “a selfish woman with no redeemable qualities” (Brother Odd 2010). I will compare the two critiques to gain an understanding of how they interrupted this book including some of the controversial details of the story. I will discuss motives on how one reviewer would hate the book, and the other falls somewhere in between……love and hatred.
Like Edna, Katy (female reviewer) is a mother and wife and she finds herself frustrated with limitations to explore her intimate desires. She shares some of the same experiences as Edna. One example Katy gave, that I agree with, is that sometimes a person needs time to take care of their own needs, and that might require sending the children away to Grandma’s for the weekend. Personally, I love my free time and when I get a chance to have my house to myself, I will, without any regret of feeling selfish. Edna felt relieved when the children went to stay at Grandma’s, “a sense of relief filled the air, a radiant peace settled upon her when she at last found herself alone” (Gilbert, S., & Gabar, S., 2007, p. 1309). Katy empathizes with Edna’s desire for happiness, but felt Edna counted on finding happiness through other people, like Robert. Katy states, “I found myself wishing that Edna could have done something more constructive and sustainable with her awakening, though I know for her time period she wouldn’t have had many choices” ( Katy 2010). I agree, Edna did rely on the other characters, including Robert, but these characters were essential for Edna’s transformation. I feel, Mademoiselle Reisz had more of an influence on Edna than Robert. Mademoiselle Reisz’s music had an undeniable strong influence on Edna’s progress; the time they spent together unleashed Edna’s thought progression. The music pulled out emotions Edna had suppressed for years. Edna’s emotions came pouring out like a spring thaw while she sat quietly and listened, taking in every note. At this point of the story I began to pay close attention to Edna’s connection to Mademoiselle Reisz’s character. For the first time in Edna’s life she finds senses awakened, not by touch, but by music, art and water. Chopin states that as Edna listened to the music, “her passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the wave’s daily beat upon her splendid body. She trembled, she was choking, and the tears blinded her” (Gilbert, S., & Gabar, S., 2007, p. 1273). This out pour of emotion from Edna made me realize she was not aware she had feelings trapped inside, but she did realize something inside her was changing.
Unlike Katy, Brother Odd (male reviewer) has no sympathy for Edna. He feels she is selfish by ending her life to escape from her husband and children. I disagree with this; I do not believe Edna wanted to distance herself from her family. In fact, with her inner turmoil her family never entered her mind. Brother Odd never mentions why he feels Edna ends her life, other than stating his feeling that Edna was selfish. Brother Odd does not explain his thoughts regarding her motive for ending her life. I feel she is beginning to find her independence and this itself makes the reader question her motive behind her actions. For example when Edna leaves her children with their Grandma this is hard to understand, but yet realistic. Edna was a mom, by traditional standards not an adoring mom, but I believe she loved