Pontellier. Set in the late eighteenth century, Mrs. Pontellier is expected to be the
obediant maternal woman who dotes on her children and admires her husband. Edna
appears as the ideal Victorian woman despite her reclusive personality. But as the novel
progresses, Edna starts her awakenings where she begins her diffacult journey of self
expression and self identity. Symbolism and imagery are key components throughout the
novel and are used to more intimately explain Edna 's awakening. Specifically, location.
The sensuality of Grand Isle, confinement of the "Pigeon house", and helplessness in the
Pontellier mansion shape Edna and pave the path towards her self discovery.
Grand Isle is a seaside vacation home for the Pontellier 's. They reside at the
cottages of Madame Lebrun and are accompineied by the Ratignolles, a Creole family.
Edna 's relationship with Adèle Ratignolle spark the beginning of her awakenings. Adèle
is loud and vibrant, quite opposite to what Edna is accustomed to. Adèle and the other
Creole women are extrmely chaste and do not shy away from taboo topics. They gossip
and talk about matters such as pregnancy much to the dismay of Edna. The freedom of
speech Adèle represents interests Edna and influences her to almost in a way, step up for
herself. The subtle yet complex awakening is seen almost immediately when the
Pontelliers arrive back home. While laying on the hammock at night, Edna refuses to
listen to her husband when he tells her to come inside. Edna even goes to lenghths saying,
"Don 't speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you."( Chopin pg. 80) This is the first time
Edna goes against her husband 's ...
... middle of paper ...
life at the Pontellier mansion. Unfortunately, when Edna tries to fly away from her
expected roles, she only lands in another cage. She is ultimately trapped and
unable to escape her reality no matter where she goes. Edna feels as if noone
understands her. Not Robert, who in the end could not defy societies rules, not
Adèle, who kept trying to get Edna to diminish her wayward thoughts, and not
Leone, who cared more about image than feelings. Edna is told countless times by
Madame Reisz that in order to fly away and escape, she must have strong wings.
But Edna overestimates her strength and instead of "[soaring] above the level plain
of tradition"(pg. 110), she falls back to Earth exhausted and bruised. Edna 's final
awakening is that she cannot escape society, despite her constant moving, and that
the only way to be by herself and content is through death.
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