This volume presents a variety of new essays on Kate Chopin's The Awakening. This classic novella, published in , is considered a landmark work of early feminism. It appears in practically every anthology of American literature, and it is one of the most widely taught of all American novels. Although never technically banned, Chopin's work was strongly criticised for its depictions of female sexual desire and for featuring a protagonist who resisted social norms and traditional gender roles. This volume surveys previous criticism of the work but also offers a variety of new approaches from various critical perspectives. Essays relate the novel to such topics as race, humour, Chopin's life, impressionist painting, irony and close reading, tourism and landscapes, regionalism and naturalism, and folly and engendered discourse. Chopin's novel is compared to works by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Mark Twain, and several essays are intended to be highly accessible to students and of genuine value to teachers.
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An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. Chopin, 28 The Awakening portrays a woman caught in the feminine role defined by her society. This characteristic of Edna is highlighted through some recurrent images or is symbolically conveyed in some of her relationships with the other characters of the novel.