Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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In Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”, longing for passion and freedom Edna Pontellier leaves the safety of her gilded cage, only to find that death is her only salvation. In the 1800’s the main role in society for a female was to be a wife and mother, women at this time were the property of their husbands and had little say in anything. Which for Edna was the opposite of what she wanted, she wanted to be free from these responsibilities and to live her own life. Although Edna is not a victim in the role society has chosen for her, she freely walked into her gilded cage and into the role of wife to Leonce Pontellier and mother to their children. The longer she stayed in her marriage, the more she realizes that the passion she needed was not there with her husband, nor was the motherly affection she should have felt for her children. Lost in mixed emotion and longing to be free, Edna’s actions not only affect her husband life but also the future of her children. Even though Edna is selfish, in the end she realizes everything she has done will harm her two boys. She is not strong enough to be free without the love of Robert Lebrun and in the end decides she will not go back to the gilded cage of the life she led before. In the thoughts of her children and the life she is not strong enough to keep, she returns to the sea. The one place she can be truly free from everything that is holding her back.
In the 1800’s the husband controlled everything in the family and the wife was just another possession. The wife’s main duties were to care for the children, husband, house and any social obligations that the husband required of her. Leonce Pontellier embraces this view and many times throughout the story shows how much Edna is his po...

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...sband. Unable to continue to live without the passion of her heart and unwilling to return to her gilded cage, Edna returns to where everything started, Grand Isle. When she arrives at Grand Isle, the sea calls to her and she knows that her salvation and the salvation of her children lay upon the waves that beckon to her. As Edna swims out to sea, her arms growing tired, she knows salvation is near. Edna was a lost soul who was not meant to be a wife or mother and in the end did what she felt would be best for everyone. With her death Leonce could move forward with his life and perhaps one day marry a woman more like Adele Ratignolle, for a better future for him and the children. However, death is never a solution, in Edna’s mind it was the only choice. Edna was not strong enough to face the backlash of society nor go back to the gilded cage Leonce had for her.
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