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Summary of The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is widely considered one of the most important and beautifully crafted novels of the turn of the 20th century. At the time of its publication in 1899, however, many saw Chopin’s exploration of a married woman’s quest for fulfillment and autonomy as morally deviant. Critics condemned it as much for its portrayal of female sensuality as its unorthodox perspectives on marriage and motherhood. Surprisingly modern in style and psychology, Chopin’s unique blend of matter-of-fact narration with lyrical interludes continues to draw readers and raise incisive questions about the nature of desire and the complications of freedom. As the heroine Edna Pontellier sheds the influences and obligations laid upon her from without, Chopin offers both a pointed critique of the limited social roles permitted to women in America and a sympathetic exploration of the challenges inherent in an individual’s search for existential truth and autonomy. 

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literary classics