The Awakening


Every writer has an influence. Some are influenced by the ideas that the author has; some are influenced by the style, which the author writes with. Still others are so intrigued by a writer that they are not only influenced by their way of thinking and their writing, but they actually begin to mimic the author in many ways. This is the case with Guy de Maupassant?s influence on Kate Chopin, who is undoubtedly the greatest influence on Chopin?s writing.
"Maupassant was born in Châteaude de Miromesnil, Normandy" (Encarta). He received his education at Yvetot and Rauen and there joined a literary team where he was trained as a writer of fiction by Flaubert, another well know French author (Encarta). He, like Chopin, wrote many short stories, for which he is remembered the most (Encarta). Like Chopin, Maupassant?s ideas were looked at as "immoral" and "mature," dealing with ideas such as "sex," loneliness, and "depression" (Jones 385). He questioned the standards of the day, and was therefore rejected by many people as an immoral person (Jones 385).
Kate Chopin?s interest in Maupassant began after her mother died (Toth 181). At that time she had moved to a new location in the city where she lived and began to make new friends who were interested in the writings of Maupassant (Toth181). She described vividly how she felt upon reading Guy de Maupassant for the first time:
His writing undoubtedly moved her. Chopin claims to have felt that he spoke to her "directly" and "intimately" (Toth 181). She admired him most for the things that made him the writer that he was. She was intrigued by his escape from "?tradition and authority? and for having ?entered into himself and looked out upon life through his own being and with his own eyes?"(Skaggs 205). Eventually Maupassant replaced other writers as her primary influence and "literary model" (Toth 205).
Chopin had such and interest in Maupassant that she translated many of his stories from French to English (Toth 273). Due to there content, however, several were never published (Toth 273). Chopin had been taught French by her grandmother, who wanted her to know "how to speak and write French well" (Toth 35). Through this Chopin was able to take the stories of Maupassant and easily translate them. The more Chopin translated Maupassant the more she was influenced by his thinking and writing (Tonth 274). Even in reading Maupassant?s stories, while they are translated, you can still tell that there is a remarkable similarity to Chopin?s writing and his. Chopin used "realistic characters" and very "expressive" details to in her writing, much like Maupassant (Ewell 19). Many of Chopin?s short stories resemble those of Maupassant?s. Chopin?s "Her Letter" is similar to Maupassant?s "It?" and "Night" (Toth 272). Chopin?s "The Night Came Slowly" is similar Maupassant?s "Solitude" (Toth 272). Finally, Maupassant?s "Suicide" influenced Chopin?s novel, The Awakening.
Undoubtedly with Chopin's attempts to "emulate" Maupassant, and the fact that he was almost her only "literary model," it makes since that her greatest work, The Awakening, would have touches of Maupassant and his ideals located throughout the novel (Wolff 37). In fact, Maupassant had a short story called "The Awakening," who?s plot more than resembles Kate Chopin?s book of the same name. At one casual reading one might find the similarities subtle, and small; however, if one digs a bit deeper, one may find the actual similarities frightening. In Maupassant?s "The Awakening," Maupassant writes, "As she saw him continually she had grown accustomed to his voice, to his gestures, and to his manner, as one grows accustomed to those who whom one meets continually" (Maupassant 256). In Chopin?s Awakening, Edna tells Robert, "I've grown used to seeing you, to having you with me all the time?." Like Edna, the woman in Maupassant?s "The Awakening" is married when she falls in love with another man and becomes intimately involved with him; however, these two stories have two different endings. Edna sees her situation as hopeless and drowns herself (Chopin 109). Maupassant?s character returns to her husband because she knows that she can not resist her desires for the other man much longer, and she does not want to commit adultery (Maupassant 259).
It is obvious that Chopin was influenced by this story; however, for whatever reason she chose to develop her characters differently and