The Awakening is a book that is similiar to a few other classics which explore gender roles, restrictive societies, and whether one can be happy (such as Madame Bovary and The Dollhouse). The significant difference here is that this novel was written by a woman, and that alone made it far more controversial by discussing gender role and a woman's sexuality (because confoundedly at the time, while everyone acknowledged that women *had* a sexuality, women themselves were somehow supposed to be completely unaware of it unless it was through male observation).
So the central question in this book is one that is still constantly being examined even today, though perhaps with differentparameters: Can one feel truly happy and free in the role that society prescribes for him or her?
- What is a woman's role in society conflict with her identity and freedom?
- In what ways are a mother's duty divided and marginalized between herself, her children, and her husband?
- How is a woman's personal freedoms and rights limited in pre-feminist society?
- In a pre-feminist society, why are women little more than domestic servants
- The novel ends as tragedy. What roles do men, family, society, and she play in a woman's unhappiness and death?