Essay on The Awakening and A Doll’s House

Comparison of The Awakening and A Doll’s House 


   The Awakening, a novel by Kate Chopin, and A Doll’s House, a play by Henrik Ibsen, are two works of literature that can be readily compared. Both works take place in the same time period, around the late 1800s. Both works feature a woman protagonist who is seeking a better understanding of herself. Both Edna and Nora, the main characters, display traits of feminism. Both Edna and Nora have an awakening in which she realizes that she has not been living up to her full potential. Awakening and growth is one of the main themes in both of the works. Throughout the works, each woman has a close female confidante who symbolizes the traditional role of women and society’s views of that role.


Edna Pontellier is the 28-year-old protagonist in Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening. The novel takes the reader through nine months of Edna Pontellier’s life during which she is struggling between society’s expectations of a woman’s behavior and her own passions and desires. The story takes place on Grand Isle, an island near New Orleans, as well as in the city of New Orleans.


One summer Edna, her husband, Leonce, and their two children vacation on Grand Isle. During the vacation, Edna meets many people, one of whom is Adele Ratignolle, a woman who becomes her confidante. Adele embodies all the characteristics of nineteenth century society. She stays at home with her several children, is expecting another, and is a devoted wife. Another important person she meets is Robert Lebrun, the flirt of Grand Isle, who awakens Edna’s sensual side. Edna and Robert fall in love. When Robert realizes his affections, he decides that he cannot stay in Grand Isle, so he goes to Mexico….

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…ndercurrents, female companions, and strong ideas about feminism. The works were written in the late 19th century when these topics were shocking and controversial to society.


Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1985.

Clurman, Harold. 1977. Ibsen. New York: Macmillan.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House (1879). Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Rpt. in Michael Meyer, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th edition.

Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Martin, Wendy, ed. “Introduction.” New Essays on The (Awakening. New York, NY: Cambridge UP, 1988.

Rogers, Katharine M. Feminism in Europe. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

Templeton, Joan. “Is A Doll House a Feminist Text?” (1989). Rpt. In Meyer.


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