1. What is it?
An awakening is when a person spiritually, mentally or emotionally realises what their true purpose or feelings are. It is as if they have woken up from a life of sleep and discovered their real life.
In literature, the most common awakenings are sexual, religious, becoming an adult, or realising they need freedom from a subservient relationship.
2. How is it made?
|A character has a relatively mundane life.||An event occurs which starts to make the character think about purpose or feeling. This may include meeting a person who shows what life is missing.|
|The character begins to view the world differently and act on these new thoughts and feelings. The character cannot go back to the old life.||This new version of the character causes society to react differently towards them.|
|The new world in which the character lives may be better, more free, or treat them harshly.|
3. Examples in literature
Know Your Book
by Gustave Flaubert
Title: Madame Bovary: Moeurs de province (*trans: Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners)
Author: Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)
Genre: Fiction; novel; realist novel
Plot: Widow Charles Bovary marries Emma Rouault. However, Emma finds her life dull and motherhood disappointing. She sees excitement in lawyer and aesthete Léon, but deems it improper to act. Landowner Rodolphe, however, takes advantage of this frustrated wife and the two begin an affair. After Rodolphe abandons her, Emma begins an affair with Léon, but they become bored and Emma compensates by buying luxury goods. An adulterous with large debts, Emma’s life is sinking.
Setting: Rouen; Paris
Characters: Emma Bovary; Charles Bovary; Rodolphe Boulanger; Léon Dupuis, M. Lheureux
Excerpt from Part II, Chapter 9 (translated from French):
And as soon as she had got rid of Charles she went and shut herself up in her room.
At first she felt stunned; she saw the trees, the paths, the ditches, Rodolphe, and she again felt the pressure of his arm, while the leaves rustled and the reeds whistled.
But when she saw herself in the glass she wondered at her face. Never had her eyes been so large, so black, of so profound a depth. Something subtle about her being transfigured her. She repeated, “I have a lover! a lover!” delighting at the idea as if a second puberty had come to her. So at last she was to know those joys of love, that fever of happiness of which she had despaired! She was entering upon marvels where all would be passion, ecstasy, delirium. An azure infinity encompassed her, the heights of sentiment sparkled under her thought, and ordinary existence appeared only afar off, down below in the shade, through the interspaces of these heights.
Then she recalled the heroines of the books that she had read, and the lyric legion of these adulterous women began to sing in her memory with the voice of sisters that charmed her. She became herself, as it were, an actual part of these imaginings, and realised the love-dream of her youth as she saw herself in this type of amorous women whom she had so envied. Besides, Emma felt a satisfaction of revenge. Had she not suffered enough? But now she triumphed, and the love so long pent up burst forth in full joyous bubblings. She tasted it without remorse, without anxiety, without trouble.
|Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension|
1. What is Rodolphe’s relationship with Emma?
2. What does Emma do once alone in her room?
3. Where had Emma previously encountered ‘heroines’?
4. To what does the rhetorical question in this passage refer?
5. Anaphora is used within the passage. Highlight it.
6. How is alliteration, consonance and assonance used in the second paragraph?
7. Compare the manner in which Emma thinks of Charles (her husband) with how she thinks of Rodolphe. What is the difference?
8. Which phrases give the idea of change? Underline them.
9. In what ways does Emma’s fantasy seem to affect her perception of reality?
10. ‘Emma felt a satisfaction of revenge.’ Based on the passage, against who or what is Emma getting this revenge?
11. How does the passage use language to express Emma’s awakening? Do you think that the language choice effectively expresses the idea of change?
12. Bored of her marriage, do you think Emma is right to do what she is doing?
13. What is your feeling about Charles? Is he a victim, or to blame for Emma’s actions?
14. Madame Bovary was once seen as a hugely controversial book. Why do you think this was? Why do you think this has changed?
Know Your Book
by Kate Chopin
Title: The Awakening
Author: Kate Chopin (Kate O’Flaherty) (1850-1904)
Genre: Fiction; novel; feminism; awakening
Plot: Edna and Léonce Pontellier have a comfortable life, with money and two children. On holiday Edna falls in love with Robert, but Robert recognises the romance is without a future and leaves. However, the relationship awakens a realisation in Edna that her life lacks independence and happiness. When Léonce and the children are away, she moves into a small cottage and begins an affair with Alcée. Robert, however, is still in love with Edna and plans to return.
Setting: New Orleans; Grand Isle
Characters: Edna Pontellier; Léonce Pontellier; Robert Lebrun; Alcée Arobin;
Excerpt from Chapter 29:
Without even waiting for an answer from her husband regarding his opinion or wishes in the matter, Edna hastened her preparations for quitting her home on Esplanade Street and moving into the little house around the block. A feverish anxiety attended her every action in that direction. There was no moment of deliberation, no interval of repose between the thought and its fulfillment. Early upon the morning following those hours passed in Arobin’s society, Edna set about securing her new abode and hurrying her arrangements for occupying it. Within the precincts of her home she felt like one who has entered and lingered within the portals of some forbidden temple in which a thousand muffled voices bade her begone.
Whatever was her own in the house, everything which she had acquired aside from her husband’s bounty, she caused to be transported to the other house, supplying simple and meager deficiencies from her own resources.
|1. The first line of the given passage suggests that normally Edna would be expected to|
a) find shared accommodation
b) move in with her parents
c) find a home further away
d) consult her husband before acting
e) gain a divorce before moving
|2. Based on the language and feelings of the passage, Edna’s actions may be described as|
|3. ‘Within the precincts of her home she felt like one who has entered and lingered within the portals of some forbidden temple in which a thousand muffled voices bade her begone.’ This line implies that Edna feels her actions are|
a) ungodly and worthy of punishment
b) an exciting breaking of a taboo
c) spiritual and moral
d) unremarkable yet widely commented on
e) following lost ancient traditions
|4. Which of the following is suggested as important in the final line?|
a) Financial independence
b) Reclaiming single life
c) Ignoring social expectations
d) Being free of family members
e) Finding new love
|5. Both Emma Bovary (Madame Bovary) and Edna Pontellier (The Awakening) have their psychological awakenings tied to|
a) abusive husbands
b) unfulfilling home lives
c) the want for children
d) the desire for employment
e) changing social attitudes