“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”(Virginia Woolf). During the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, and even today many people still believe this quote to be true. Stating that a women in order to be respected and successful needs a to be married or have a man in her life. Author Kate Chopin, defies these standards through her character Edna Pontellier in her novel The Awakening. Many years after The Awakening was written President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his “Four Freedoms” speech. Although,when the President spoke about freedom from fear he was referring to the Nazi Party and Germany , the fear that Edna Pontellier faces throughout the story is her fear to express herself and her underlying want to break gender …show more content…
By the end of the novel Edna sees the world through completely different eyes. At the beginning of the story Edna is a respectable, stereotypical women of this time period. She suppresses all of her feelings and desires and lives her life through her husband. She is not a confident woman in any aspects of her life, appearance especially. Chopin describes her even in the first scene as misunderstood. “Mrs. Pontellier was not a woman given to confidences, a characteristic hitherto contrary to her nature. Even as a child she had lived her own small life all within herself.” (Chopin pg.14). But while speaking to Adele Ratignolle about her youth, Edna begins to reveal her desire for romance and freedom. She continues to explain how marrying Mr. Pontellier killed her desire for romance and true love, and how her marriage basically ended her ability to fulfill her want for romance. Edna devoted herself to her husband like every other woman did. Chopin begins to develop Edna’s character by introducing Robert Lebrun. While Edna rediscovers her suppressed feelings for Robert, her character develops into a woman who is not afraid to express her sexuality and her want for freedom. With her new found confidence she swims out in the sea by herself trying to find her own freedom. From that moment on Edna becomes the independent woman that was not recognized as respectable in this time. When she returns from her awakening at
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Her father tells her that he doubts that her sisters will ever speak to her again. Edna feels that she should not attend the marriage of her sister when her own marriage is responsible for her unhappiness. She gains a bit more of her own say in her life, and loses the acceptance of her father and
To be a good wife in Edna’s society meant being a ”mother-woman“. James describes these women as ”...women who idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels. “ (Chopin, chapter 4) Typical example is Adele Ratignolle, Edna's best friend, who devotes herself solely to her husband and children seeking nothing for herself. Edna starts to be dissatisfied with this and begins awakening from her semi-conscious state of a devoted wife and a mother and breaking free from her limited, conservative lifestyle. She begins to see the world around her with a fresh perspective and discovers her own identity.
McKenna Martin Mrs. Schroder AP Literature 3 January 2018 The Awakening Outside Essay - 1999 Prompt The Awakening showcases Edna Pontellier, a housewife residing in New Orleans, Louisiana during the early 1900s. Edna Pontellier is married to Leonce Pontellier and they have two sons together. Edna is consumed in internal conflicts throughout the entire novel.
Edna developed a yearning for the pursuit of passion and sensuality, two major qualities that were absent in her marriage and home. She became enchanted with the idea of passionate love. This is shown by her relationship with Robert and with Alcée. These relationships resulted in a sexual awakening in Edna’s life. Mademoiselle Reisz 's piano performances brought an emotional awakening in Edna and fed her need for some drama in her life.
Acceptance, freedom, love, and lust, these conflicts arise in The Awakening by Kate Chopin as Edna Pontellier struggles with her internal conflicts. Chopin uses foils to demonstrate her evolution in the novel. In a time where women are expected to be subordinate, Edna begins to defy the standards and her oppressive husband. Compliance and individualism are exemplified by two polar characters: Adèle Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. These women act as foils and provide references to the reader in understanding Edna’s awakening.
She runs to other people to lean on for emotional support and stability. While looking up to and trying to be as good as or better than others, Edna finds herself in deep feelings of depression and wants a better life and freedom from her current one. Edna throws away big parts of her life, like her home and her family, to try and fix the issues she feels she has in her current one; “‘Mademoiselle, I am going to move away from the house on Esplanade Street’” she expresses feelings of abandonment to try and escape her life. (Chopin 106).
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.
When The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, was first published, many critics bashed on the book because it was filled with sexual desires of a woman and this was not the social norm for a women to behave. Chopin showed a lot of courage when she decided to publish this book to fight for women’s equality by showing society how they feel and their roles. Although we saw Edna sexually driven to many different men in the book, one example was her love for Robert. Robert left Edna because he loves her, he left her. Robert knows that he can’t be with Edna because it will ruin her reputation in society as a woman.
Edna fully understands that society would brand her as a terrible woman, but she does not view herself as a bad person. There is an external and internal difference that Edna hopes to one day reconcile. Chopin, instead of creating tension within Edna, created tension within the society and Edna with her newfound independence does not mind how society classifies her. Decisively, it can be concluded that the tension between outward conformity and inward questioning builds the meaning of the novel by examining Edna’s role as a wife, mother, and as nontraditional woman in the traditional Victorian period.
In the Awakening Edna Pontellier was an unstable character, she upsets the expectations of the nineteen century women’s role. Chopin focuses on two females that influence Edna`s life and help her in what we see are her awakenings Both of these characters will represent the role of women’s in the nineteen century. Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz are the examples that the men around Edna contrast her with and who they obtain their expectations for her. Edna begins to see that the life of freedom and individuality that she wants goes against both society and nature. She cannot free herself not even through suicide.
Chopin uses Edna to comment on how Victorian society expected women to be mothers before being a person, damaging women’s autonomy and independence. For a while, Edna sends her children off to be cared for by their grandmother. During the time they’re gone, she sees Madame Ratignolle give birth. While she watched it, she described it as such: “With an inward agony, with a flaming, outspoken revolt against the ways of Nature, she witnessed the scene of torture” (Chopin chapter 37). This quote is filled with negative diction that conveys the extent to which Edna abhors and regrets motherhood, seeing birth as something that goes against nature.
The moral conflict that Edna Pontellier experience begins when she is unable to control her urges as a result of her new sexual desires and willingness to break Victorian social conventions. She quickly leaves her family in order to pursue a life free of her children and husband. There are times when the internal more conflict shows and her old morals return for a short period of time. For example, when she visited her children in the country and expressed how much she missed them, even though she left them within a week. Edna sees that an adulterous relationship is wrong, but she continues to live the fantasy life with Robert and Arobin.
Another one of the actions that promote Edna’s awakening is her learning to swim. Edna’s swim is a fresh and exciting experience for her and it stimulates feelings of awareness. Chopin’s description of the event is a metaphor for Edna’s awakening as well as a foreshadowing of the consequences of her
Edna’s marriage to Leonce “was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate. It was in the midst of her secret great passion that she met him. He fell in love, as men are in the habit of doing, and pressed his suit with an earnestness and ardor which left nothing to be desired” (Chopin 18). As Edna’s awakening develops, she begins to act out of character, driven by her inward desires. She starts spending more and more time with Robert, and while Leonce is aware, he pays no attention to the affair.