Because she was drugged during the delivery of both her sons, Edna never truly experienced childbirth. She didn’t realize the overwhelming natural force of bringing a child into the world.
When she witnesses the birth of Adele’s child, it is brought to her attention that the female body is designed for childbirth, and she has already committed herself to this purpose by becoming a mother. Her mindset is all wrong for a mother, she sees children as just one more life to populate the world, yet nature has decided that this is her purpose in the world. Edna’s realization about her natural position of woman and mother in combination with the societal position she’s expected to fill drives her to suicide.
The concept of sharing her body with another being, becoming truly a part of something other than her individual self, is the opposite of everything that Edna has been looking for. She thinks of how Raoul and Etienne will be a constant presence in her life and how her natural position as a mother prevents her from being able to live a life without them. After all, a woman’s primary job is to bring her …show more content…
“The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days” (Chopin 127). Edna will not allow her self to be chained to its natural and societal titles, and she commits suicide to free it from these definitions.
In a final statement as to the universality of motherhood, Edna’s acceptance of death is also a rebirth. Nine months have passed since Edna’s enlightening summer in Grand Isle, and her fetus-self is ready to be delivered. “For the first time in her life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her. She felt like some newborn creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it has never known”
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While not only, knocking the idea of traditional female ideals, she also gets the chance to show her absolute disdain for commitment in marriage, most likely due to her affair with the man she truly loved, Robert. When Edna’s husband decides to leave her alone and goes on an extended trip, she finally puts her words of dissatisfaction into action and, as an act against societal norms and traditional obedient women ideals, moves out of the house that she shares with her husband, and instead, lives on her own in order to become more independant. A woman having any type of independence during this time period was a completely radical idea, and she struggles to find a normal
However, the conformity of society leads to her suicide because it holds her back from finding her true identity. As Edna listens to Madammoiselle Reisz play the piano, “the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body” (Chopin 23). Because the society she lives in is so rarely met with the opportunity for woman to express themselves, this unique experience of listening to her friend’s music leaves Edna in awe. This is the first instance where Edna experiences a need to develop her own identity.
All these changes Edna made were so meaningful and represents her actual personality. Before her awakening she didn’t show anything of her true personality along with millions of women. Many people judged and mistreated her, but no matter what the obstacles were in Edna’s way she tried overcoming them the best way she can. Not only society was countering her ways of thinking, but also her husband, Leonce
Moreover, when her children tumbled, she will not pick them up just let them get up on their own. In contrast to Adele, Edna is not contributing herself to her family as well as Adele. Edna tries to fit in as the role to be a good mother, but, she cannot definitely, to be a mother-woman cannot fulfill her eagerness to be a special, independent and egocentric person. In Chapter XVI, Edna said to Adele, she would give her money and her life to children, but never herself. And that is what she is trying to understand and recognize.
After swimming successfully, she develops feelings for Robert. After this awakening, Edna starts to step back and rethink her entire life; her marriage, her role, and even herself. She realizes she feels sort of imprisoned in this life she has had for so long. Edna finally starts doing things for her, she is letting herself feel an attraction for another man even though she is married and she also gets into art and has everyone in the house model for her. Rather than doing things to get the house ready for her husband or spending time playing with her children, she is distracted by all her newly found
Edna sets personhood limits on how much she would give up for her children through a recalled conversation with Adele where Edna spoke her views on motherhood: “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” (47). Her statement is revealing because Edna goes against what society says a woman is supposed to feel towards her children. She would give up superficial things like money, or a even a vital thing - her life - for her children. However, Edna states her unwillingness to become a ministering angel where to reach divine status she would have to erase her personhood, who she is as an individual. Edna will not give up her self for anything.
The most rewarding attributes of this experience for Edna would be the feeling of satisfaction of conquering something in a world where woman are seen as nothing; much like a child’s excitement at their newly gained knowledge. In Chopin’s own word she describes “A feeling of exultation overtook her as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (page27). Although she is not ashamed of who she is becoming there is still a need to hide which is greatly caused by her surroundings. This can be seen when Edna takes her turn reading a shared book that has been passed around the cottages. Reading this book left her wonderstruck
Edna’s inner identity reaches the breakpoint where it is necessary for her well-being that it is expressed. At this point, nothing else matters besides her intuitions and desires. This brings difficulty to her familiar relationships and friendships due to her rejection of living according to her role as a mother and a wife. Even though this conflict is addressed, it does not make an impact on her decision to remain a bit selfish through this time that she is finding herself. As a way of explaining her state of mind, Edna states that she "would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself.
However, Creole women were expected to be chaste, and would behave in a unreserved manner. The exposure to such openness is what frees Edna from her previously repressed emotions and desires and motivates her to become more independent. Because they are women, Adele and Edna do not have much freedom, as in comparison to men. However, Edna gains more freedom that is much closer to that of men when she abandons her household and social responsibilities. Edna’s refusal to follow and obey social conventions, allows her to spend her time on painting and sketching.
There is a perceived split between “outer Edna and inner Edna” that is constantly disrupting Edna and her desires. Outer Edna is supposed to be recognized as this ideal wife who obeys her husband and does what he commands-similar to her friend Adele. This lifestyle that Edna is supposed to live by cannot be achieved due to “inner Edna’s” desire of being free and independent. “Outer Edna” conforms to society expectations even if it is not what she desires, while “inner Edna” seeks independence and
At the beginning of the novel, Edna had appeared to be recognizing the fact that her life revolves around her husband and her children, and that it is her main duty to care for them. It is mainly Mr. Pontellier, her husband, who tries to establish an image of her being a both a perfect partner and wife. He views her as an object that must be suitable for the eyes of society. According to him, his wife is a “valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (Chopin 2). He is controlling over her appearance and actions.
In addition, the search for self-identity is viewed as important in today’s society. Thus, these confliction attributes lead the reader to identify Edna as morally ambiguous. Categorizing complex characters as purely good or purely evil is not one of the easiest of tasks. As a result, it is best to characterize them as morally ambiguous. In Edna’s case, she is morally ambiguous due to her romantic affiliations and role-defying actions, but both are immensely vital to Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” as a complete whole.
Women during Edna’s time were supposed to be dedicated to their husbands and children, however, Edna yearned for her own independence, and as a result of wanting her own independence Edna knew that she was seen as a terrible person. For instance Edna wanted to “…try to determine what character of a woman I am; for, candidly, I don't know. By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can't convince myself that I am. I must think about it" (27.4).
In the 19th century, a group of people launched the suffrage movement, and they cared about women’s political rights, their property and their body liberty. Born in that age, Kate Chopin was aware of the importance of setting an example for those who were taken in by the reality and poor women to be an inspiration. So we call her a forerunner of the feminist author for every effort she put in advocating women’s sexuality, their self-identity and women’s own strength. When people were ashamed of talking about sexuality, Kate Chopin stood out and call for women’s sexual autonomy.