Saturday, December 25, 2010

A review of The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.

  I have just finished reading this brief novel by Kate Chopin. The original name of the story was "A Solitary Soul", and I'm inclined to say that this would be a better name for it. ( As far as I know, an editor happened to change the name to "The Awakening").
   I confess that the story captivated my attention in such a way that I was not able to put it down till its unpredictable ending. The novel unravels a woman's soul, Mrs Pontellier's, who is going through a dull, colorless marriage. In many ways, she is a very practical woman who plays the role of a happy wife in the eyes of her community. Yet her relationship with her husband is far from perfect, and, at the beginning, we learn how she faces unfair criticism from her husband.
    Mrs Pontellier's characterization is expressed  through  her interesting backstory of past infatuations as well as  the complexity of her emotions, contradictions and inner conflicts that assail her during her current marriage.However, Mrs Pontellier faces the rigidity of her marriage with both grace and confusion.
    She falls prey to the love of  a man-a family friend- and she becomes a slave of those inner feelings that both torment and color her existence, carrying her to a world of dreams where she tries to make sense of life. Mrs Pontellier has a flair for painting, and she takes it up as  a way of expressing herself and connecting to the world from a  refreshed perspective. Mrs Pontellier strives to find herself, and her struggle leads  to many external conflicts in which the pejudices of society are exposed, while her husband does his best to conceal his wife's defiance from the public.
    Kate Chopin's choice of words is exquisite. The descriptions of settings and people are seductive and poetic. Her delicate  style is in itself musical. The story is full of twists, charged with tension and intrigue; the end is unpredictable and displays the core of the story: Mrs Pontellier's solitary soul.

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