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Introduction

So you’re going to teach Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenging spots, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into conflict, symbolism, and realism in an influential work of fiction, as well as important themes surrounding free will, sexism, and the search for self. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1899 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:
  • Approximate Word Count: 46,000 
  • Author: Kate Chopin 
  • Country of Origin: United States of America 
  • Genre: Literary Fiction 
  • Literary Period: Realism, American Regionalism 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Society, Person vs. Self 
  • Narration: Third-Person Objective 
  • Setting: Grand Isle and New Orleans, Louisiana; late 1800s 
  • Structure: Prose Novel 
  • Mood: Emotional, Meditative, Weighty


Texts That Go Well With The Awakening

A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen. In Ibsen’s 1879 play, Nora Helmer is married to Torvald and they have three children. Her husband expects her to be happy for him at all times, as well as keep house and manage the children. Nora finds this existence to be insufferable and longs to find personal fulfillment. The only way she can find out of her situation is to leave her husband and children behind. 

The Stranger, by Albert Camus. Camus’s 1942 novel tells the story of a man who, like Edna Pontellier, defies societal rules and pays the ultimate price. The protagonist, Mersault, is an outsider who longs to live his life the way he wants to live it. He succeeds, for the most part, until he murders an Arab man on a beach and is called to account for every action he has taken in his life. 

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. Plath’s 1963 novel centers on Esther Greenwood, a young woman from the suburbs of Boston who, upon completing her degree, moves to New York City to write for the magazine Ladies’ Day. As one who has always been a scholar and thus knows what is expected of her, Esther finds the working world incomprehensible. Roles for women are limited: it’s wife and mother or the steno-pool. Esther slips into a depression that puts her under psychological care. She eventually pulls through the debilitating depression and lives her life on her own terms. 

Lady Chatterly’s Lover , by D.H. Lawrence. In Lawrence’s 1928 novel, Lady Constance Chatterly is married to an emotionally distant man...

(The entire section is 678 words.)