What Is Edna's Role In The Awakening

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At the end of the novel when Philip “had come home and found his wife in her brothers arms” it signifies how the patriarchal family that he has created has been undermined. (P.196) Also, as it has happened in the kitchen a very public part of the house is quite important. The kitchen is the centre of domestic life where everybody comes together, and it is the only place in the house where Melanie would feel safe and warm. However Philip changes this mood and it becomes uncomfortable. He cannot stand that he has been undermined so he sets the house on fire. “A floor caved in inside the house with a gush of fire. All burning, everything, toys and puppets and masks and chairs and …Edward Bear burning, with her pyjamas in his stomach…At night,…show more content…
Yet, she is dragged back into the roles society places on her. Her relationship with Robert comes to a bitter ending, as Robert ultimately wants marriage. Edna is “no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. [She] give[‘s] [herself] where [she] choose[s]. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy, she is yours,’ [she] should laugh at you both.” (P.178) Edna has fully taken on the role of the New Woman as she will not be objectified and treated as somebody’s property. Edna’s view on marriage has changed, though Robert wanted her for her own being, he wants to put her in the same box as a good wife. Nevertheless, the ambiguous ending of whether Edna takes her life could suggest that she is now free from the constraints of society who still has control over her. “The water of the gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun…she looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for a instant, then sank again.” (P.189-90) Throughout the ending of the novel Chopin uses the metaphor of the sea to illustrate how the sea is a force of nature leading Edna to her freedom. There is a sense that society has made Edna feel guilty for leaving her family and children, as she is not a “mother-woman” like Mademoiselle Reisz. Women’s suicide was not common in the 1890s; Chopin choosing to liberate
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