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Feminism In The Awakening

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin ends with the protagonist’s suicide. The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, becomes completely erratic in her pursuit to escape the confinements of a patriarchal society but also to gain the affections of a younger man, she discovers how she cannot ever fully break free from either, proving the appropriateness of her self-destructive conclusion.
Edna Pontellier, an American woman in 19th century America, finds herself in an affair which completely changes her life. Mrs. Pontellier’s life as a devoted wife, loving mother, and perfect lady, as seen near the start of her story, seems to have never fulfilled nor ever satisfied her. Her Creole husband, Léonce Pontellier, made quite a kind man and a typical sort of husband
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This simple request had made her understand that she can never fully isolate herself due to the shackles of motherhood, and therefore can never be freed. Her children, whom she was fond of “in an uneven, impulsive way” (18), would always tie her to the rest of the society she so despised. Since the beginning, Edna felt “their absence was a sort of relief” as she felt that the “blindly assumed” responsibilities of motherhood “had not fitted her” (18). Only before, she could not “admit this, even to herself” (18). Now, at the conclusion of her story, and her life, she seems to find that the release of death is the only release which would enable her to be freed from the control of men and suffocation from her own children.
The title of Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, seems to ironically contrast her story’s conclusion and the main character’s self-induced eternal slumber. Edna Pontellier’s liberation from men and high society begins with the justified motive of self-empowerment but quickly spirals out of control when it becomes based purely upon being able to love another man. These conflicting influences cause her complete destabilization, leading to a tragic, but fitting, self-destructive
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