The Awakening Essay

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Writing Prompts:

  1. The Ending: Some critics view the ending of the novel as Edna’s failure to complete her escape from social conventions, an act of cowardice once she no longer has a man by her side. Others view it as a final awakening, a brave decision to give herself to the sea in a show of strength and independence that defies social expectation. Which interpretation do you agree with, and why? (You may want to discuss “The Story of an Hour” as well.)
  2. Motherhood: How does Chopin describe motherhood in The Awakening?  What does she suggest are the possibilities for women who engage in this traditional female role?  Choose at least two mothers who appear in The Awakening and discuss both of their attitudes toward motherhood as well as what Chopin seems to be saying about this supposedly sacred institution. How does this contrast with Mademoiselle Reisz, a single, childless artist?
  3. Themes/Symbolism: What is the central theme of The Awakening? How does the author, Kate Chopin, use symbolism to convey her message? Symbols in the text include: music, art, children, changing houses, birds, the sea, cigars, clothes, food, the moon, sleep.

Writing Criteria:

  • Well-organized multiple-paragraph essay.
  • A clear thesis statement (main argument).
  • Textual evidence with analysis (quotes must be cited with page numbers in MLA Format).
  • Creativity and sentence variety.
  • Checked for spelling/grammar/mechanics.

You may also choose to use the following texts below in your essay:

Handouts and Writing Resources:

Editing/Revision Resources:

Feminism in Literature

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Discussion Question: Which text better captures the struggles of women at the beginning of the twentieth century, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening? From a feminist viewpoint, which is more empowering? A century later, as a piece of literature, which better stands the test of time?

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Online Resources: