The Role Of Motherhood In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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When Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening realized that she was not satisfied with the life that she was leading, she began to gradually break free from the societal restrictions placed upon her. She seeks freedom from her role as a wife, first distancing herself from Mr.Pontellier by engaging in relationships with other men, then distancing herself further when she purchases her own house. During her pursuit for a new life, a wave of emotions that had previously gone dormant are revived. She finds herself increasingly attached to her new life: her paintings, her pigeon house, and her love for Robert. As the novella proceeds, Edna’s feelings for Robert intensify, and his final rejection of her leaves her heartbroken. It is not Robert’s rejection, however, that leads Edna to commit suicide, nor is it her inability to escape from her role as a wife. Instead, there is a third role which Edna struggles to break free from, the role of motherhood: a constraint which eventually leads Edna to taker her life. Edna’s most prosperous liberation is that from her duty towards her husband. When she first moves out, she exclaims that “every step which she…show more content…
It makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Leonce Pontellier—but Raoul and Etienne!” (Chopin, 108). The hyphen points to the one exception to the rule, Raoul and Etienne. Of course, that is not to say that Edna possess the typical relationship that a mother has with her children. In fact, her relationship is far from that. She herself describes her attitude as a fluctuating one, “she would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (Chopin, 19). This fluctuation, however, is what makes her children a stronger force in her suicide than her duties towards her husband, her duties as a housewife, and even her love for
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