Monday, July 22, 2013

The Awakening

"Despondency had come upon her there in the wakeful night, and had never lifted. There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone." ~ The Awakening by Kate Chopin

I have to say that that book is one in which I identify with so much. The main character, Edna, portrays such an inner struggle that many women face with their desire for freedom yet their feelings of being trapped and held down by the social conventions towards women. She has this desire to keep herself and her own soul to herself. . . to not let anyone take her away from herself. She portrays this struggle as well as all the emotions around a woman who struggles with depression. I relate with Edna in her constant inner struggle and her never-ceasing battle against her emotions and life. Nothing ever seems to go right for Edna. Her husband doesn't understand her, her desire to be a famous artist never takes flight, her emotions are a roller coaster, and the only man she ever loves leaves her because he can never be with her while she's married. . . "Good-by — because I love you". . .

Throughout the book she has "days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested. There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,- when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation. She could not work on such a day, nor weave fancies to stir her pulses and warm her blood."

I relate with her and it gives me a sense of knowing when I read this book. (yes I have read it more than once). I feel as if I am not the only one in my sense of loneliness and confusion. I feel as if I'm not the only one who has a life where seemingly nothing ever goes right. . . I too have times when my despondency doesn't seem to lift. . . when the only person I want is the man who I know will one day melt out of my existence.

*spoiler alert* I am going to spoil the end of the book so beware. 

 Edna reminds me of myself. It actually scares one of my friends with how much I identify with Edna because she ends up killing herself in the end but that is a phase that has passed in my life and I no longer fantasize about that. Instead I can relate with her and understand why she does what she does. . . but I have to say that Kate Chopin does a beautiful job with the ending. . . it captures so much emotion and so much beauty despite the fact that a horrible thing is taking place. There is so much symbolism and foreshadowing that is being lived out. The ending makes me stop and think. It makes me take a breath and relax. It makes my mind flood with so many thoughts that I have nothing to think about. . . either that or it empties my mind of all thoughts. Either way — I have absolutely no sense of where I am or what I feel or what I think for a moment in my life. It is such an odd feeling but I feel as if I found someone who completely understands my soul.

"How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky! how delicious! She felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known. The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles. She walked out. The water was chill, but she walked on. The water was deep, but she lifted her white body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. She went on and on. She remembered the night she swam far out, and recalled the terror that seized her at the fear of being unable to regain the shore. She did not look back now, but went on and on, thinking of the bluegrass meadow that she had traversed when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end. Her arms and legs were growing tired. She thought of Leonce and the children. They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul. How Mademoiselle Reisz would have laughed, perhaps sneered, if she knew! 'And you call yourself an artist! What pretensions, Madame! The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies.' Exhaustion was pressing upon and overpowering her. 'Good-by — because I love you.' He did not know; he did not understand. He would never understand. Perhaps Doctor Mandelet would have understood if she had seen him — but it was too late; the shore was far behind her, and her strength was gone. She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again. Edna heard her father's voice and her sister Margaret's. She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air."
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