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Edna’s Struggle and Awakenings

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Edna’s Struggle and Awakenings

Edna’s Struggle and Awakenings

Kate Chopin by the means of creations like The Awakening is trying to make the female in society think about her condition and also push the feminism movement. Her depiction of The Awakening is realistic as she develops Edna Pontellier’s character from a socially and morally respectable individual to an individual that turns her back on everything that was certain in her life to become independent. She struggles between her subconscious and conscious thoughts as unusual feelings stir unfounded emotions and senses. Chopin portrays Edna as a character who is struggling against the society throughout the story and is also going through series of ‘Awakenings.’

The constant boundaries and restrictions placed on Edna Pontellier by society will initiate her struggle for freedom. Her husband Leonce Pontellier, the current women of society, and Grand Isle make it evident that Edna is trapped in a patriarchal society. Edna is a young Creole wife and mother in a high-class society. The novel unfolds the life of a woman who feels dissatisfied and restrained by the expectations of society. Leonce Pontellier, her husband is declared “…the best husband in the world” and she is forced to admit that she knew of none better (Chopin 472). Edna represents women in the past that were suppressed. These women weren't allowed to give their opinions and were often seen as objects which explain the way her husband never really saw Edna as his wife. Leonce addresses Edna when she is getting back from the beach, “You are burnt beyond recognition, he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered great damage” (Chopin 469). Here, he views his wife as an object, and she receives the same respect as a possession or a thing. These reasons lead her to struggle for her freedom and she turns to the sea, Robert and Madame Reisz to seek this freedom.

Along with struggling for freedom Chopin reveals Edna as a character struggling to maintain the social norms. She did not respect her husband like other wives in Grand Isle. She tells Leonce, “…, go to bed….I mean to stay out here. I don’t wish to go in, and I don’t intend to. Don’t speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you” (Chopin 492). If this were some other husband asking his wife to come in, the wife would have just walked in and would have obeyed their husband. Being a part of the patriarchal society the women in Grand Isle had to do as they were asked to by their husband. This kind of a society gave the men power over the women. Edna also fails to fulfill her responsibilities as a mother. The narrator describes, “If one of the little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at play, he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up, …” (Chopin 473). This indicated that the young Pontelliers were not as dependent on their mother, Edna as the other children in Grand Isle. Edna and the kids had become distant from each other and she feels a sense of relief when the children go to visit their grandmother. Edna’s mind is at rest concerning the present material needs of her children. She is also often criticized by Leonce for neglecting the children. In fact the narrator tells us that, “He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children” (Chopin 471). Due to the distance from Edna, the children

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