Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

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Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening should be seen as depicting the discontentment that comes from self-gratification rather than the glorification of delighting in one’s fantasies. Chopin describes the central idea of one who is seeking to please her personal needs and desires and, in the process, neglects to notice how her actions affect others. The protagonist, Edna, is not able to find peace or happiness in the accepted daily life that a woman of her era and social status should have. The fulfilling of her desires could essentially cause social ostracism for her, her husband, and her children, yet she is unable to find repose in living the typical social Victorian life. The final resolve of her “awakening” to her desires, her ultimate suicide, is not an honorable position that women should strive toward as a romantic ideal because her desires were hopeless in her situation. Through Edna’s striving for personal satisfaction, she loses the joys that daily life has to offer.

Theoretically, Edna’s need to fulfill her personal desires is the cause of her demise. Edna chooses to associate and be enamored with Robert. In doing so, Edna begins to step farther and farther away from her family and sees their needs less clearly. Bonnie St. Andrews views Edna’s actions as, “one woman’s rebellion against convention” (28). In essence, her desires turn into a greed that blinds her from seeing anyone except herself.

The first step in understanding the reason that Edna ended her life so hopelessly is to identify when her selfish desires begin to take root in her mind. In associating with, and essentially being courted, by Robert, Edna becomes disillusioned with her present circumstances (her role in ...

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