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
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...