She was constantly confronted with thoughts and feelings that sought to pull her away from her typical life with the promise of a new start. For instance, the thought of her children pleased her, yet the free and independent lifestyle Mademoiselle Reisz lived pulled at Edna. Her flippant personality leads Madame Ratignolle to tell her she seems “like a child” and is concerned about her new adjustment to the pigeon house (101). Edna, being constantly surrounded by various opinions, is overwhelmed by the pressure she feels from her husband, children, and society which leads to her suicide. The day she walked down to the sea “[a]ll along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight” yet just before Edna surrenders her life to the water “a bird with a broken wing” appears “circling disabled down, down to the water” (120).
The Death of Edna Pontellier The struggles of Edna Pontellier throughout her everyday life in a society that she feels she doesn’t belong in, is developed through the writing of Kate Chopin. As her character develops, Edna’s final decision of suicide illustrates her defeat in the face of society. In, The Awakening, Kate Chopin employs poetic diction and anaphora to emphasize and illuminate Edna’s awakening and how her death positively affected her character development.
Chopin is widely known for the support of female independence and self-fulfillment, and in her most influential and famous work, The Awakening, she depicts Edna’s desire to explore and find her true self, which was often condemned in Chopin's time period as it was against societal standards. In Chopin’s writing, she incorporates plentiful amounts of figurative languages to portray Edna’s rebellion which include symbolism, foreshadowing, and juxtaposition. Out of the many methods Chopin used to depict Edna’s rebellion, the sea was a very prominent allegory to represent her freedom, rebirth, and her escape from expectations in society. The sea helps Edna achieve her desires and pushes her to see the potential to fill her life with excitement
The imagery Edna is moved with includes the sounds of the rippling water, the sails flapping in the breeze, the sight of the moon, and the “current of desire” that ran through her body, creating a drive for inspiration (97). As Edna had been acquainted deeply with the sea, a sort of rebirth occurred, similar in idea to a baptism. Her awakening, as it seems, is only the start of Edna’s journey, and the water strengthens Edna both mentally and emotionally. While in the city, Edna frequently takes “refreshing baths” and “washes up in basins” after naps to “start anew” (122, 161). Edna also meets with friends, such as Mademoiselle Reisz, from the beach while back in New Orleans.
In Kate Chopin’ s novel, The Awakening, there are three identities inside of the female leading role, Edna Pontellier, being a wife, mother and own self. Edna was born in 19th century at the Vitoria period, a patriarchy society, women have low freedom to achieve personal goal. She married with Léonce Pontellier, a wealthy man with Creole descent. After having a child, her life is still unchangeable and as bored as before. Until she encountered Robert Leburn, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Alcée Arobin, her value of self-cognition has changed.
After swimming successfully, she develops feelings for Robert. After this awakening, Edna starts to step back and rethink her entire life; her marriage, her role, and even herself. She realizes she feels sort of imprisoned in this life she has had for so long. Edna finally starts doing things for her, she is letting herself feel an attraction for another man even though she is married and she also gets into art and has everyone in the house model for her. Rather than doing things to get the house ready for her husband or spending time playing with her children, she is distracted by all her newly found
￼Lisa Cifuentes 5th Pd. AP English IV Mrs. Zimmerman 4 December 2015 Edna Pontellier’s Awakening In “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, the title holds great significance, symbolically describing the transformation that Edna Pontellier undergoes as she realizes that the conventions of her society have been constraining her from becoming her true, independent self. Edna’s awareness of her duality of self, her private emotional life, and the loneliness that accompanies her newfound freedom are all clear evidence that she truly becomes enlightened and revived by the end of the novel. The inability of the other characters in this novel to hinder Edna’s transformation is a reflection of society’s complete powerlessness against the inner flame of emotion
In the context of the late 1800s, it was very unusual for a female of that time to be as courageous and rebellious as Edna Pontellier portrayed. Edna Pontellier lived in a world where the free will of a woman was considered a fantasy. Thus, the dreamer Edna Pontellier began to uncover the possibilities of women after constant self-assessments initiating a spark to her awakening. A flying motif also conveys Edna Pontellier, as the feeling of being stripped of her freedom by society continues to broaden. " A GREEN AND YELLOW parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door," (Pg.1)
The most rewarding attributes of this experience for Edna would be the feeling of satisfaction of conquering something in a world where woman are seen as nothing; much like a child’s excitement at their newly gained knowledge. In Chopin’s own word she describes “A feeling of exultation overtook her as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (page27). Although she is not ashamed of who she is becoming there is still a need to hide which is greatly caused by her surroundings. This can be seen when Edna takes her turn reading a shared book that has been passed around the cottages. Reading this book left her wonderstruck
When she comes back from the island, this new outlook on life clashes with her husband’s old world values, and he endeavors to stop what he sees as utter madness. At one point, a family doctor recommends to Léonce that Edna spend time at her ancestral home, far away from the water, to return her behavior to what he knows as normal. Edna expresses a dislike of and actively avoids certain parts of society, but cannot fully separate herself from the motherly duties forced onto her by traditional gender roles, unlike her muse Mademoiselle Reisz. These duties, ultimately, prove to be the fetters that cause Edna to sink downward, and lead her to end her life in the same ocean where it truly
In the 1800’s, the societal niche of married women was clearly defined: they were meant to devote every aspect of their lives to their husbands and children. Edna Pontellier, the protagonist in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, struggles to adhere to these standards, and eventually rebels against them. The harsh standards placed on Edna and other women in the novel are like the cages around the metaphorical birds Chopin uses to represent them. Edna's unhappiness in her societal role is realized in the ocean, which symbolizes this awakening and her attempt to escape the gender roles of the nineteenth century.
A woman with an independent nature can be described as rebellious, passionate, and courageous. In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, the reader is introduced to Edna Pontellier, a female who epitomizes the qualities of a woman with such an independent nature. Living in a “patriarchal society” that expects women to be nothing more than devoted wives and nurturing mothers, Edna attempts to seek out her true identity as it becomes apparent how unsettled she feels about her life. Throughout The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, dissatisfied with her duties as a mother and wife, decides to pursue her own interests and express her true identity, resulting in an awakening and her finding the courage to make the changes she deems as necessary. Edna Pontellier had two young boys, Etienne and Raoul, who were ages four and five, respectively.
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 story, the only place where Edna could experience freedom and find her awakening was the sea. Thus, when she commits suicide one can see how the sea was the root for Edna finding her self-discovery. Through suicide individuals can see how it was the only escape for a woman who was living under oppression. Suicide not only shows that oppression was impossible to escape for a woman, but at the the same time it shows that suicide was the only way
As she did this, Edna faced many great challenges, but was able to come over some with the help of Romantic traits integrated in the story. The sea plays a big role in Edna’s journey to becoming free and when as they spent their summer near the ocean, she was able to realize that she wanted to escape and be free through its supernatural and romantic elements. This want escape was lead by transcendental influences from all around her. Once again, the sea is important in this because Edna decides to return to the sea and drown herself so she can be with nature and be free. Although Edna died her story did not die with her.