A Reader-Response Perspective
Essay title: A Reader-Response Perspective
A reader-Response perspective
According to Paula S. Treichle, “The form of the language, [in The Awakening], insists that the problems of Ednas situation are genuine and cannot be fully resolved; the meaning of the novel exists, in part, in its verbal form” (Walker 308). Treichler believes that the language Kate Choplin uses makes the reading of The Awakening very intense and difficult. This, in turn, keeps the reader constantly struggling to resolve the problems created by the strain within the theme: Women being portrayed as mere objects of possession and not real human beings.

After reading Treichlers criticism I was better able to have a clear understanding of The Awakening as well as to make some personal reflections with being a woman in a male dominated society. Time and time again, women have been thought of as being mere objects; to be seen and not heard. Women have always been the ones who stayed at home, cooked, cleaned, taken care of the children and who were ridiculed by the disapproving society when they tried to better themselves in any way. The same can be said about Edna Pontellier and her struggle to find peace and happiness within herself.

At the very start of the story Edna is depicted as an object by her husband, his first thought or view if her is he looks at her,” as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (20-21). It is here that the reader is given the impression that Ms. Pontellier is looked upon as being more of a trophy figure rather than a wife to Mr. Pontellier. This is later reinforced when he ups and leaves her alone with Robert Leburn without any hesitation, for yet another late night trip to a casino to win more precious treasures. This vision of Edna may be seen as being very ironic at this point in the story because the author, Kate Choplin, also depicts Edna as being a mere object as well, which can clearly be seen in the following text when Edna is firs awakened by her husband in the middle of the night:

An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was like a shadow, like a mist passing across her soul’s summer day. It was strange and unfamiliar; it was a mood. (25)

Here Choplin depicts Edna as an object with adjectives such as “her” and “she” instead of using Edna’s name. This gives the reader a sense that Edna is not really the one going through or even feeling any “indescribable oppression” or “anguish.” One may lead to believe that Edna really does not understand herself what she is feeling or even why she is feeling the way that she is feeling. This may hold true because a shadow is something very mysterious in the sense it is not always seen or even fully understood but just there and accepted without any question. But, at the same time, the male dominance of the story is further suggested by Choplin when she chose to use the word “mood,” this word is mostly used to describe women when they are speaking their minds and being most disagreeable; it is just a phase or “mood swing”, in short, “PMS.”

Treichler’s criticism played an enormous part in my understanding in the second part of The Awakening where the setting went from the ocean to the city. The sudden change in Edna’s personality could prove to be very confusing to a first time reader of this story. One might have gotten the impression that Edna walked alone so much because she was so in love with Robert Leburn and that she withdrew from nearly everyone while he is away in Mexico because she was in love with him. Treichler helps the reader to broaden his/her senses and see that Edna’s walking is not only emotional but also “… something of an … spiritual equivalent to swimming” (316). Edna views her walks as being more of a learning experience as well as a way to overcome the deprivation bestowed upon her

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Problems Of Edna And Reader-Response Perspective. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/problems-of-edna-and-reader-response-perspective-essay/