Kate Chopin entitled her second and final novel, The Awakening. In doing so she did not just give an abstract name to her work, but she chose a title with meaning and symbolism. By titling her work The Awakening, Chopin is indicating her feelings and opinions of the Creole society, Edna, her life, and her ultimate decision. The title also symbolizes how Edna defies the constraints of her ordained life as a Creole women and becomes and individual. Furthermore the title the Chopin’s novel symbolizes the theme of her novel.
In Edna Pontellier’s adopted culture, the Creole culture, women have a certain expectations in society. A Creole women must be beautiful, motherly, a good wife to their husbands. “They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (pg. 8). This is what was expected of women, it was their place in Creole society. However Edna awoke from this social institution in which women have a predestined life, which they must live the Creole way. Edna became conscious of the fact that this culture is what kept her from doing what she really wanted to do, to love, live, be independent and to express herself as an individual. Throughout the work Edna is constantly awakening from her naps, constantly awakening to a world she cannot escape. “Each morning she awoke with hope…” (pg. 104) and “When Edna awoke with the conviction that she had slept long and soundly.” (pg. 37), these are a few examples of Edna awakening from slumber. It is only through these frequent naps that Edna defies the constraints of the world she lives in. Her awakening from her naps is symbolic of her awakening from the Creole culture and her husband.
Not only does the title symbolize Edna’s awakening from her social constraints, but the title also conveys Chopin’s opinion of society and Edna. By entitling her novel The Awakening, she is stating that there is an injustice to women in society that people need to conscious of, which people need to awaken to and that Edna has indeed awakened to it.
Free Essays – Impact of the Title of The Awakening
Impact of the Title of The Awakening
By using an evocative title like In The Awakening, Kate Chopin creates a spark of interest that makes the reader ponder over the events in the novel, wondering if there’s more to the story than the text. Chopin’s title is as figurative as her novel; The awakening is not in a literal since, as one would expect, but rather in terms of Edna’s “awakening” from her life of ignorant servitude to society, which shows that the purpose of her work is to get her readers to think for themselves.
Edna Pontellier’s process of awakening is the focus of this novel. Edna’s “awakening” begins when Edna starts “to realize her position in the universe as a human being.” (page 57) At this point, Edna starts to think for herself. This happens relatively early in the novel, and spans the course of the book. Edna’s Awakening seems to come in short bursts, one level at a time. She gains her next “level” when Edna “denied and resisted” (page 78) her husband, which was unheard of in that time. Edna’s awakening is well illustrated when she wakes (literally) and asks “How many years have I slept?” (page 85) Edna relates her life to that point to her own slumber, unthinking and passive until she “awakens.” At this point, the world is exposed for what it is in truth, not what society masks it to be. Edna fully “awakens” in her own death, finally acknowledging her love for Robert and her own loneliness. When Edna takes her own life, it shows that she no longer has anything to live for, save a love that will never amount to anything. Just before Edna goes into the water, a “bird with a broken wing,” (page 175) symbolizing Edna, drowns, as does she.