Self Discovery In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Self Discovery Imagine living in a society constantly having strong feelings of not belonging and self-hatred. Then getting married, settling down, and having children… just to find unhappiness, and confusion. This is Edna Ponteiller’s life from The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Edna lives in an extremely high class, classic, New Orleans creole society in the Victorian Era. She has a husband, Leonce, and children at home, but slowly she begins to choose herself over her family and begins to go on her own self-discovery fueled journeys, meeting new people along the way. This is doomed from the start, as for Victorian Era women were housewives, and it was frowned upon for not living up to those expectations. Throughout the novel, Edna tries to piece…show more content…
These rules include cooking, caring for the children, cleaning the house, and never disrespecting the husband, or whomever the man of the house may be. Although she doesn’t agree with these rules, Edna accepts them most of the time and takes the role as a wife and mother. She usually respects her husband, Leonce, and does try to be a good mother to her children. It is hard for Edna to be a good wife when Leonce is always in the city conducting business, and working out of town. Edna’s trying ways does not last long as for the narrator describes Edna the opposite of "women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it as holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels."(Chopin 10). Edna does not idolize her children, nor does she worship her husband. In chapter one, she leaves her son alone, sick in bed with a high fever...forgetting to check on him. She also has affairs on Leonce. Edna realizes motherhood and family life is not for her. Helena Lopata, author of the article Self Identity in Marriage and Widowhood, describes self identity being “formulated in a complicated process of social interactions which involves symbolic definitions of the self, the other, and the situation” (Lopata 407). Edna begins to discover her own self identity while swimming in the ocean with Robert Lebrun, a man who she has…show more content…
She does not care anymore at this point. Edna comes to the conclusion, once again, the motherhood and wifehood lifestyle she is currently trying to live is not at all for her. She officially gives up on her children, and specifically her husband. Edna does not get very emotional or upset over this… she takes the situation and makes the first realization about herself. “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (Chopin 17). Edna’s realization is that she is not a typical woman. She has specific wants and needs for herself that will be impossible to be met if she continues with the lifestyle she is currently living. She knows she can not support Leonce or their children in the ways society feels she should, so she decides mutually with Leonce to move out of the family house and live on her own… away from the kids, and away from Leonce. It is a time that she will really get to try to figure herself out. While she is away she starts experimenting sexually, not only with other men, but even with other women.“We no longer have authoritative maps of the social and behavioral world…” (“Feminists and Sexual Identity”). With evidence being in the quote above, in today
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