Friday, July 15, 2016

Shakespeare References in The Awakening

Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening doesn’t contain any obviously deliberate Shakespeare references, but there are two phrases she uses which seem to originate from Shakespeare. The first is in her line “She needed the sun to mellow and temper her mood to the sticking point” (p. 120). The term “sticking point,” or “sticking place,” was used in Macbeth. Lady Macbeth says to Macbeth, “But screw your courage to the sticking-place,/And we’ll not fail.” The term means the point at which something reaches its greatest strength or limit. It’s related to the image of a crossbow pulled taut, and means being firm and resolute. The other line worth mentioning is Chopin’s “I couldn’t help loving you if you were ten times his wife” (p. 173), as it reminds me of Hamlet’s line, “We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.”

The Awakening was originally published in 1899. The edition I read is a hardcover book club edition published by Nelson Doubleday, Inc.

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