Edna Pontellier's Motifs In The Awakening

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During the nineteenth century, possessions, including women, and the home represented status, wealth, and power that only men possessed. In The Awakening, the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, becomes highly conscious of herself as an individual who has the potential to be self-sufficient and do as she desires. She begins to defy the standards of woman during the nineteenth century through iconoclastic beliefs that eventually lead Edna to participating in an affair and leaving her husband, Leonce. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses the motif of the home to highlight Edna’s responsibilities as a mother and wife and to also track the progression and evolution of Edna’s state of freedom.
Mr. Pontellier takes great pride in his household possessions, including Edna, so as his wife, she is obligated to perform her duties that are expected of her, which limits her free-will. After Edna and Leonce return to their home in New Orleans, Mr. Pontellier inspects his house, insuring that everything is in its rightful place.
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Edna’s house in New Orleans that Mr. Pontellier owns represents her responsibilities as a mother and wife. There, she must abide by Mr. Pontellier’s rules as well as society’s expectations of her. Discontent with those rules, Edna attempts to break from those responsibilities by breaking the vase in her husband’s house after trying to ruin her wedding ring. Here, she is no longer submissive, but trying to set herself free. Eventually, Edna moves to her own house that her husband does not own, which allows her to make her own decisions and allows her to decide what she will do each day. At her new home, she finds peace and a newfound sense of independence. During the nineteenth century, the homeowner often defines the roles of individuals in the
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