Feminism In The Awakening

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Although contemporary society distinguishes feminism and the freedom to express one's identity as more modern topics, a nineteenth-century author by the name of Kate Chopin addresses similar ideas through the main character, Edna Pontellier, in her novel, The Awakening. Throughout the plot, Edna experiences a progressive “awakening” in which she develops an enlightened knowledge regarding her own desires and interests, even though the conventions of the Victorian society of that era clearly oppose her behavior. From Grand Isle to New Orleans, Edna meets and befriends several people that all contribute to her journey of awakening, but, in the very end, it seems as though she has never been more isolated. In a final attempt to escape the confines…show more content…
During the night after Adéle’s childbirth, Edna lies awake in a state of heartbreak while she thinks persistently about her longing for Robert. However, serving to interrupt these despondent thoughts, “the children appear[] 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, 124) Edna realizes that, while both Robert and Alcee are fleeting figures in her existence, her children are not so easily removed from her life and responsibility by time. In the end, her children are the lone restraints that hold her captive to society because of her maternal obligations to them, which leaves her with two options, remain in bondage as a mother or flee enslavement through suicide. Moreover, Wyatt elaborates upon this topic when he states, “Edna understands that what is expected is for her to give up her life for her children: society means this figuratively; Edna acts on it literally.” (4) Aware of the fact that accommodating her children would require her to lay aside her selfhood, Edna chooses to commit suicide because the alternative comes at far greater a cost to her. Consequently, Edna’s social connection to her children compromises her autonomy because she fails to have a choice over the outcome of her
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