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The Awakening by Kate Chopin: Love Theme

Updated on September 18, 2018
Hanane Salif profile image

When I was assigned this novel during my Novel2 course. I had to choose a theme for my presentation. I chose the love theme.

...Looks at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.

— Kate Chopin

The first type of Love: Marriage

In 1899, Kate Chopin wrote a quite controversial novel for her era. The story is about a Victorian woman named Edna Pontellier, just like any other woman from her period, she had a typical life. The goal was finding her a suitable husband whom she is supposed to worship and devote herself to. Indeed, they have managed to provide her the perfect man, Léone Pontellier. The latter was a wealthy business man, he provided Edna and their two boys with an extravagant life. Finantially speaking, Mrs Pontellier was more tha just comfortable, she had the big house in New Orleans, the summer vacations Grand Isle, and the endless gifts from her beloved man. Nonetheless, Edna was unhappy. While introducing her relationship with her husband in the beginning of the novel, there was no sign of the "Love theme" described in any way. Léonce always addresses and treats Edna as an object, as his partner in his marriage project, and as the mother of his children. Edna wants to be treated as wife, as a partner in life, and simply as a lover. However, it does not mean that Léonce did not have any sort of affection towards his wife, he did, but in he showed it in his own way, the only way he knew. Unfortinately, it was not the way which Endna desired.

It was you who awoke me last summer out of a life-long stupid dream.

— Kate Chopin

The second type of Love: Romance

As mentioned before, the Pontellier family spend their summer vacations in Gand Isle. Robert Lebrun is family friend who happens to live in Grand Isle. Robert was around Edna's age, he was handsome and flirty, but not as successful as Léonce. When the latter had to leave for work, Robert was the one who kept Edna company. Throughout summer's long days, the young couple developped mutual feelings towards each other. It was quite easy for our protagonist to have feelings for Robert, he always seemed affectionate and concerned about her, paid attention to her and her needs as a mature sensitive woman. Moreover, there was always a sense of forbidden love which tends to enhance the feelings as well as the relationship. Lebrun was devoted enough to even teach Edna how to swim. However, when things became more complicated than when they started, Robert decide to run away to Mexico and ignore his feelings towards his love. As predicted, it devistated Edna, especially when he repeated it after coming back. It was then when she had enough of life's cruelty. Between Robert's two flees, Mrs Pontellier met a third man whom introduced her to a different type of relationships that was neither marriage nor romance.

He had detected the latent sensuality, which unfoded under his delicate sense of her mature's requirements like a torpid, torrid sensitive blossom.

— Kate Chopin

The third type of love: Sexual

Alcée Arobin, the womanizer fashionable charmer. By the time Edna has met Alcée, she was already becomig rebilious herself. Therefore, having a lover such as Alcée Arobin seemed as the only logical cherry on the cake. Alcée never showed Edna any plans concerning the future and definitely did not promise her the world. They both knew what they were getting themselves into, she even knew she was attracted to him but definitely did not love him. At this point, Edna was feeling young again, and by young I mean the teenage young. It made her forget she is married woman and a mother of two boys, and she became a free young girl full of hope again. With such a glamorous lifestyle, Alcée was merely a refreshing break in Edna's life. Although through the novel the only explicit description was a kiss between both of them, there is a belief that they shared more than that.

Edna Pontellier have been searching for herself and identity for the whole nine months. This theme seemed to be an important motive in her decisions. It was Léonce whom sent her to Robert and Robert to Alcée. In a perfect world, she could have found a fourth man, maybe named Leo, an interior designer who grew up within musician parents which made him discover his artistic side and feelings. However, this mixture of the three men was not possible since she ended her life at the Grand Isle beach.

© 2018 Hanane Salif


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