Edna's Suicide in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Edna's Suicide in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

At the end of Kate Chopin's novel „The Awakening" the protagonist Edna commits suicide.

The remaining question for the reader is: Does Edna's suicide show that she succeeded or failed in her struggle for independence?

Edna's new life in independency seems to be going well especially after Robert had returned from Mexico. The lover, who she met during her vacation at Grand Isle, told her that he loves her and he wants to marry her.

But her mood changes when her friend Adéle tells her that she should care more about her family as she does not spend enough time with her family because of her affairs.

Robert leaves Edna behind because Edna does not give a clear answer to his marriage proposal.

Afterwards she starts thinking about her life, her psychological and physical "awakening "and her children.

She invites her friends for dinner and returns to Grand Isle, where she pretends to go for swimming but never came back from the water.

In my essay, I would like to reflect upon Edna's options and decisions which she could have taken in order to avoid the suicide.

One way could have been to marry another man or remain married with Leonce and stay with her children. This option is not possible for her because she would be a man's trophy again and could not keep up her ideas of independence. Besides that, this would imply that she loses all that she has fought for or gained throughout the liberation process.

Man at that time would have wanted her to live as a " mother woman", "wom(a)n who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels" (Chapter IV).

Edna is no mother wo...

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...her anyone.

The novel ends very abruptly. That is why it is difficult to say whether the suicide is an act of desperation or to show the society that she is ready to die for her beliefs.

To my mind, it only shows that she couldn't see any way out of the misery and she chose the suicide to protect her kids from social problems.

There is no objective answer to the question: Edna's suicide, failure or success?

Both of the answers make sense and for both answers you will find reasons.

I think that her suicide shows that she failed. The society was simply not ready for her revolutionary ideas. She failed because she could not find people to support her ideas. In today's world, where the society is more liberal, she would have probably succeeded but not in the society of the 1890'ies century. And it was not a coincidence that the novel became famous 50 years later!
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