In Kate Chopin s The Awakening, the romantic and lyrical nature of Frederick Chopin s Impromptu, as well as its originality, are the vehicle by means of which Edna realizes her love for Robert and her desire to be free and self-determined.
Chopin s Impromptu arouses "the very passions ... within [Edna s] soul"(p.34). The harmony, fluidity, subtle rhythm and poetic beauty of the Romantic composer make Edna loose herself in the music that stirs her emotions. The art completes, for her, what nature cannot bring to a finish. The exquisite, looping, and often fiery melodies of the Impromptu make a cut in Edna s mind through the conventional beliefs about people and society. Because she is not a musician, her listening is based on intuition, allowing for a direct apprehension of the music by the soul and leading to a confrontation with the reality itself the reality of "solitude, of hope, of longing, ... of despair"(p.34). This is the beginning of Edna s awakening, for such emotions, especially despair, are not an end but a beginning because they take away the excuses and guilts, those toward herself, from which she suffers. This revelation of previously hidden conflicts gives birth to dramatic emotions within Edna. It is so powerful that Edna wonders if she "shall ever be stirred again as...Reisz s playing moved" her that night (p.38).
For Edna, the times that Reisz plays are times when she "take[s] an impress of the abiding truth" and realizes her true desires(p.34). When Edna visits her, Reisz first improvises at the instrument and then plays the Impromptu which itself has original and adventurous themes. Through music Edna realizes the importance of being self-actualized and making choices. She again feels the same as that night when "new voices awoke in her" when through music, the way to genuine freedom was revealed to her (p.84). However, having freedom comes with responsibility, which like giving birth to art, requires special skill. For Edna, the fantasies of freedom are transformed into reality wholly only in music and possibly the inability to acquire the skill to deal with her new emotions in life explains the dramatic conclusion to the journey and exploration of the passions that begin on the island.
Creating and appreciating music requires much skill, but as this appreciation occurs often unmediated by thought, the soul is touched and emotions, unmolested by controls of the mind, of society, of anything, are brought up within the person, often opening the way to change and greater freedom.