Kate Chopins' Awakening Is Not A Tragedy

1387 words - 6 pages

Kate Chopins' Awakening is Not a Tragedy

    When we think of a tragedy, thoughts of lost love and torments abound.

The most human of emotions, sorrow, overwhelms us. We agonize over the

tragedy, and the tragic figure. We lose sight of reality, enthralled by

the suspense, captured by the Irony that, "we know" what plight lies ahead

for the characters. We feel the suffering and the helplessness of the

characters as the tragedy unwinds. Although Kate Chopins' The Awakening

is a powerful story, it is by no means a tragedy.  The

Awakening does not posses the necessary components of a tragedy. There is

no tragic figure, there is no tragic plot or theme, and the ending is far

from tragic.


        First, tragic figures must captivate the audience. They must create

an atmosphere that is shrouded in irony, suspense and mystery. These

figures must also make the audience love them, feel for them and experience

the anguish and pain they will undergo. King Lear is a great example of a

tragic figure. He appeals to the reader, and captures their attention. The

reader ends up sympathizing for him, and wanting him to overcome the

obstacles which block his path. He motivates the emotion of the audience

and controls their feelings. Edna Pontellier does not have the depth of

character or ability to be a tragic figure. From the opening chapters she

is portrayed as a troubled woman, one who is captured within a society

where she does not belong. Her marriage to Leonce is one of convenience,

there is no love, no passion, and no affection between them. Edna portrays

a woman who is caught up within a life which does not suit her. She is, in

all aspects a possession. Her every action is dictated by her husband , and

by the accepted rules of her society. As a result of all this, Edna starts

to yearn for excitement, for adventure, and for an escape. She begins to

see her true self buried beneath the formalities of Creole life, thus she

rebels. Edna becomes enraptured by the search for the most desirable of

human traits, freedom. Edna has no tragic flaw or character trait. On the

contrary, she knows what she wants her life to hold, and she leaps for it.

All of her actions are aimed towards fulfillment of her dream. She wants to

be again as she was as a child, free to wander, free to experiment, and

free to love at will. Edna transforms herself from an obedient housewife,

to a woman who is alive with strength of character and unrepressed emotion.

These are not the actions of a tragic character. Rather, they signify a

character who is in pursuit of happiness. Edna does not have the capability

to be a tragic figure. She is not one who captures the love of the audience.

Her actions actually cause her to be an unlikeable character. For example,

she abandons her children, cheats on her husband, and...

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