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A Level English Literature Student Guide to The Awakening

Shirley Bierman | Monday November 11, 2019

Categories: Archived Resources, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level, AQA A Level Pre-2015 Resources, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB4, Hot Entries, Prose, Analysing Prose, The Awakening, Writing, Analytical Writing, Comparative Analysis, Literary Analysis, Prose Analysis

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  • The Awakening SOW.docx

A Student Guide to ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin

Section A: Focus on Feminism

Kate Chopin, born as Catherine O’Flaherty, wrote The Awakening in 1899. Within her context, her story was not generally well received by critics who called it ‘morbid, vulgar and disagreeable’. In her short tale she deals with the themes of female independence and sexuality as well as unhappy marriages and, to a modern reader, developed ideas ahead of her time.

Character Profiles

Edna Pontellier

Young wife and mother from New Orleans. Married to Léonce but not fully satisfied with her life and wanting more than she presently has out of life. Her eyes are opened to an independent way of thinking by her relationships with her holidaying friends in Grand Isle who are more open and less reserved than she has ever been. Edna is not a typical ‘mother-woman’ and although she may not seem a good mother she wants to remember who she is rather than lose her identity in just being a wife and a mother.  Edna’s route to finding herself is by taking a lover, Alcée Arobin, as well as expressing her love for Robert Lebrun.  Edna does not have a happy sex life as this becomes clear after she has kissed her lover for the first time as she feels she has been sexually awakened for the first time. Her awakening comes when she realises that her life, and society’s expectations, do not allow her the freedom she desires so she goes out into the sea and does not return.

Léonce Pontellier

Edna’s older and wealthy husband who does not know how to deal with his wife’s refusal to do her ‘duties’. He believes he is a good husband as he provides for her, sends her presents and gives her money to spend as she pleases. However, he treats Edna as a possession, an object, rather than as a woman with a mind of her own. Léonce, in return for giving her these things, wants an obedient wife and mother, who looks after and loves her children, and a...


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