Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening: A Complex Psychological Portrait

Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening: A Complex Psychological Portrait

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The human psyche is, and continues to be, an exceptionally labyrinthine and almost unconquerable entity. Its vastness dictates what we do and who we become making the emotions and actions we express as unique as the humans that express them. Whether those emotions are erratic or placid is a mystery that no man may ever know. Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening is a story of which the psychological facets contrive and control the characters to the greatest degree. Edna Pontellier, as the title suggests is a complex psychological portrait with traits and actions more thoroughly understood through psychological observation and analysis.
One psychological theme that is prevalent in The Awakening is the psychological apparatus, or more commonly known as the id, ego, and superego. Edna’s desire for Robert obviously exhibits her primal indulgences as she deems any opportunity near Robert as “delicious.” Edna’s desire as the id is also apparent as she uses Arobin as a surrogate for Robert as Arobin’s touch is “a flaming torch that kindled desire.” Her lust creates an even stronger attraction to Robert as “she felt closer” to Robert while he is in Mexico. Edna’s superego, at least to the subjective audience, is altered so that she does not believe she is “a devilishly wicked specimen of the [female] sex,” even though society dictates that she should. She has no remorse; she convinces herself that nothing is wrong with what she is doing. However, with Robert’s superego intervening with Edna’s desires, her psychological apparatus is balanced, in a way, by proxy. Though, Edna’s ego, however, has no mediation ability whatsoever simply because both extremes are focused on the same desire: Robert. It would seem that Edna has an all-consuming de...


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...o the Electra complex. Eventually, this complex derives a sense of spurn of any kind of control from Edna. Lastly, the title The Awakening suggests that, at some point, Edna had to have gone through a period of “dreaming” that enables Edna to live her fantastic caprices. This period of dreaming begins and ends at the ocean which is symbolic for re-birth and the womb. By successfully completing her swim, Edna is beginning her dream and living her edacities. By striping her clothes off and descending into the depths of the sea Edna, as a new-born creature, is seeking to return to the sanctity of the womb. Edna Pontellier is a subject of psychology all her own, however far is up to the reader. The psychology of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is not tangibly obvious, however in regards to the story is incredibly significant in understanding the nature of Edna Pontellier.

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