Books and Movies Reviews

The Awakening

One doesn’t have to look beyond thefirst line on thefirst page of
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening to understand that art, music, beauty and
poetry are about to come up hard against traditional values which are so
firmly planted that nothing can move them.But it is because of this very
obvious crash of values that Edna Pontellier finds herself, and sets
herself free from the mundane in the end, and in a highly symbolic and
In the opening scene, Mr. Pontellier is annoyed by a bright and
attractive parrot that says, over and over, “Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en!
Simply, the bird opens the book by telling anyone listening to “move
on.” The one who apparently moves on is Mr. Pontellier, so he can continue
reading his paper, a mundane and traditional activity.Indeed, that noise
and all the other noises in the resort area where he has taken his family
bother him.Clearly, Mr. Pontellier is moved only to anger by what a more
poetic character would see as charming, exotic, and free. But the
instructions of the bird, which Pontellier avoids, might also be taken as
Edna does move onâ€"by bumping into tradition embodied in her friend
Madame Ratignolle and then into transcendence, assisted by her friend
Madame Ratignolle is a traditionally lovely Victorian lady without
Mademoiselle Reisz, on the other hand, is a very bohemian Victorian
lady with extraordinary talent at the piano.
Very shortly into thefirst chapter, Chopin foreshadows the importance
of art and artistic expression to Edna Pontellier.On her return from the
beach, where her suntan was dismissed as unseemly by her husband, Edna
seems to begin her artistic quest.Chopin writes, “She held up her hands,
strong, shapely hands, and surveyed them critically, drawing up her fawn
It is clear from the start that music, art, poetryâ€these are not the
things of …

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