Edna Pontellier's Role In The Awakening

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Patriarchal societies have existed as long as there have been humans. From the beginning when men would hunt and women would gather, to the present day wage gap, men’s demonstration of superiority is evident throughout history. Women, historically, serve as accessories to men, seen not heard. However, some brave women question their role in society. Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, conforms outwardly to the societal role of women existing only as mothers and wives but questions inwardly through exploration of her individuality and sexuality, as demonstrated through her relationships with her husband Leonce Pontellier and Robert Lebrun, yet her realization that her growth will not be accepted by others ultimately causes her death. …show more content…

Leonce is the perfect husband, successful and wealthy, and he gives Edna all that she could ask for. After he sends Edna a gift, “the ladies, selecting with dainty and discriminating fingers and a little greedily, all declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world” (Chopin 10). Although outwardly he is caring, Leonce has no knowledge of Edna’s inner struggle or her dissatisfaction. Edna does not love Leonce. She admits, “Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate…closing the portals forever behind her upon the realm of romance and dreams” (Chopin 18). In marrying Leonce, Edna abandoned her hopes for love and adventure. Although she thought that she would outgrow her childish desires, Edna still yearned for something more in her life. She did not fit her role as a housewife, “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman…They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands” (Chopin 10), Edna is not one of them. She is unapologetic when she chooses how to live her life. Her refusal to conform to her societal role as a wife and mother demonstrates her inward

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