Analysis Of Edna Pontellier's The Awakening

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Prevalent concept in the novel is the concept of the “mother-woman”, which is something Edna Pontellier deeply struggles with. “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear; it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me” (chapter 16). A woman may fulfil other roles than those of a mother or a wife. Therefore, the novel tackles the issue of the sense of self, inner and outer. Through various forms of experimentation (e.g. painting, sexual encounters) Edna Pontellier is searching for herself, something that nowadays people generally do before they marry. At times she is elated, because she experiences…show more content…
Moreover, the topics of art and sex are vital in the novel. Edna is a striving artist, yet art is just another sphere in which she is trying to find her place, just like adultery is one of her experiments. “Today it is Arobin; tomorrow it will be some one else. It makes no difference to me” (ch. 39). Mademoiselle Reisz is a true artist in the novel, she is bound by no other thing than art, she responds and lives only for her art. Moreover, she becomes a mentor of sorts to Edna, teaching her what a true artist must possess in order to gain access to their true potential: “To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts – absolute gifts – which have not been acquired by owns own effort. And, moreover, to succeed, the artist must possess a courageous soul. The soul that dares and defines” (ch. 21). Therefore, to be an artist in that world is to suffer. Mademoiselle Reisz is condemned to the life of loneliness. On the other hand, Madame Ratignolle is the representative of the “mother-woman”, however, Edna Pontellier is unable to identify with and, like in the case of Mademoiselle Reisz, to accept that lifestyle: “Edna felt depressed rather than soothed after leaving them. The little glimpse of domestic harmony which had been offered her, gave her no regret, no…show more content…
and Mrs. Pontellier. In chapter 11 for the first time she conflicts with her husband : "Leonce, go to bed," she said, "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." Her reaction leaves him puzzled, because he is not used to that from her. Later on, he wonders “if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally” (ch. 19). He knew one Edna, and the way she behaves is now foreign to him; he identified her only in the role of his wife, true Edna was a stranger to him. “He could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world” (ch. 19). At Grand Isle she feels emotional change, it’s the beginning of her awakening. Upon returning to New Orleans she acts upon those thriving sentiments, so she decided to abandon her Tuesdays at home, and eventually she leaves the house on Esplanade Street and moves into the pigeon-house.
A transition from a dutiful housewife to a free spirit was not a peaceful one. In chapter 27 symbolically she “took off her wedding ring, flung it upon the carpet. When she saw it lying there, she stamped her heel upon it, striving to crush it.” She wanted the outer reality to match what she must have felt inside. The ring, representing marriage was what was smothering her. However, in the end “Edna
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