Professor Desiderio

ENC 1101


Essay 2: Literary Analysis on Chopinís The Awakening 

Choose one of the following topics and write a literary analysis in response to the question.  You do not have to answer all of the questions concerning the topic; rather, the questions are there to start the thinking and writing process concerning your topic. 

1.  The Awakening:  Analyze Ednaís awakening.  What does she awaken to?  What causes the awakening? In other words, formulate an essay that defines her awakening and shows the causes of the awakening.  There are various moments of awakening in this novel; therefore, you want to have a specific thesis and choose the best and most appropriate scenes that successfully support your thesis statement.   

2.  The Role of Men:  What role do Mr. Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, and/or Arobin (and perhaps other men, like her father) play in the novel?  Do all of these men represent oppressive patriarchal authority? Or, are they like Edna and rebelling against gender constrictions? Formulate a thesis that offers an argument regarding the role of specific male characters in the novel. 

3.  SymbolsThe Awakening is full of various symbols, especially the sea and the church.  Select no more than three symbols and analyze their symbolic significance in the novel.  What role do they play?  Does the same symbol always represent the same thing? For instance, does the symbol of the sea always represent the same idea. 

4.  The Role of Women:  Edna rebels against the gender constraints upon her.  Chopin represents these gender constrictions through her careful depiction of women in the novel.  Analyze Ratignolle and Reisz in the novel. In your essay, make sure to analyze why neither women is a viable option for Edna and why she must make the decision that she does at the end of the novel. 

5.  Artistry:   From the beginning of the novel, we witness Edna painting. What role does artistry play in the novel?  Is it an escape? Is it a symbol of her independence?  Reisz in many ways is an ideal (woman) artist and she suggests that Edna will never be able to achieve her dream of being an artist. Why?  Why does Edna fail to become an artist? 

6.  The Ending:  Triumph or tragedy?  In the end is Edna empowered or defeated?  Support your thesis with literary analysis. 

Criteria for Evaluation:
An excellent critical analysis essay will:

  • A strong thesis that delivers an argument
  • Introduce and define the topic
  • Support your thesis and claims through quotes and analysis
  • Demonstrate clarity of structure and coherence of thought
  • Conclude by reconsidering introductory question and leave reader with something to consider
  • Be written in a clear prose with correct grammar, word choice, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation
  • Follow relevant length (4-5 pages) and format guidelines (1 inch margins, 10-12 font)