Kate Chopin's The Awakening – In Defense of Edna Pontellier

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The Awakening – In Defense of Edna

Does everyone have the right to happiness? It is stated in the

Constitution that we as Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin the main

Character Edna has a comfortable life. A sweet loving husband, cute

children, enormous amounts of money and an extremely large house. Yet with all

of this Edna is not fulfilled. Edna never took time to examine her life to see

what she wanted out of it. After marriage, Edna wanted the freedom to

explore her mind, find herself and find what this person liked. In the

following I will defend the actions Edna took to find her happiness as

irrational as they may seem.

This story took place in the late 1800's when women's liberation was never heard

of. In this era women were supposed to find happiness in serving their husbands

and taking care of the children. There were no other options within the

restrictive boundaries of marriage, and divorce was never an alternative.

Women's lives were austere and self enrichment or self gratification were often

times cast aside relative to the more mundane tasks of daily life. Most women

accepted this but Edna did not. She figured that life was more than constantly

doing for someone else. She wanted time for herself in order to figure out who

she was. Some may see this as selfish but everyone is entitled to “me” time and

space. Although I admit she did not go about it in the best way at times; Edna

still was in going in the right direction.

Edna's marriage to Leonce Pontellier was to spite her father the Colonel because

Leonce was of a different religious faith. Also, Leonce was unceasingly devoted

to Edna which was something that had never occurred in any other relationship.

Edna, who had not experienced many male relationships before this was naive when

it came to men. This naiveté affected her in such a way that she neither knew

love and it's limitations nor the experience it took to make it through a

relationship. This showed Edna's immaturity which was a big issue in this story.

This shown as the woman inside who had been asleep all those years. Her

relationship with Leonce was what she sought to find happiness in.

After six years of marriage to Leonce, Edna felt an ever-growing void in her

life. She gave up all of her responsibilities such as taking care of her

children when they were sick and she never spent time playing with them.
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