My rating: 2 stars
The importance of The Awakening by Kate Chopin as a work of early American feminism is undeniable. I didn’t cherish the reading experience, however. Published and set at the end of the 19th century, this novella touches on interesting issues, such as women’s need for independence, but they are not turned into an immersive story that brings the characters to life.
The main character, Edna Pontellier, was married and had two children. During the summer holidays, she became drawn to another man, Robert. Subsequently, she started to overlook conventions and to question why, until then, she had always done everything that her husband wanted.
The writing style didn’t enthral me. Readers become aware of what the characters did and felt but without any sort of detail and depth. Everything is just exposed on the surface level. For that reason, the characters don’t feel fully fledged. Although their features are stated, they are not striking, since their states of mind are not wholly explored. Edna’s tribulations, as she tried to give a new impetus to her life, are only occasionally arresting. The other characters are just mere decoration pieces.
It’s only almost near the end that the prose and the story start to become more engrossing. The resolution of this novella feels unsatisfying, though, as it virtually contradicts all the questions raised about womanhood, desire and independence.