The Awakening Analysis

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“The years that are gone seem like dreams—if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life” says Edna at her appointment with Doctor Mandelet (151). In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Edna is constantly at odds with her own fears – her independence; however, over the course of the novel, Chopin reveals a deeper side to Edna. She does not fear being alone, she is afraid of being without herself. It is also revealed that her society is often against her self-discovering favoring a more traditional female role. In its final scene, The Awakening offers readers a more complex method to obtain freedom, death. Edna’s suicide reveals her final awakening, breaking free from all the pressures that bind her.
Edna’s awakenings in Grand Isle and in New Orleans set her up for failure by forcing her to understand her lack of options. Edna’s first awakening is when she realizes that she is not happy with her life as a housewife. This awakening is realized while Edna is at a dinner party with Md. Ratignolle and her husband. When she arrived home, she “felt depressed rather than soothed” (75). She then goes on and “st[omps] upon her wedding ring” (76). This symbolizes Edna’s desire to escape from marriage altogether, but her inability to crush the ring shows her powerlessness to break free from her imprisonment. Edna breaks through the role given to her by society; she learns her own identity independent of her husband and children. Edna later realizes that she cannot be the same as Mademoiselle Reisz. Edna does not possess the carefree attitude of Reisz and stills struggles with social appro...

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... and escape. With her death she is surrendering herself to freedom. Her death by sea is a symbol of her allowing herself to overcome her ambiguity about her personhood.
In conclusion, The Awakening ended in the only way it could have, with Edna’s death. Edna’s lack of options and her fear of solitude lead to her death. However, Chopin turned her death into something much more meaningful than just a way to end the novel. Edna’s final awakening is realizing that she cannot do the things that wanted to do. With this she chooses death before overcoming her problems. Kate Chopin juxtaposes this fear of living alone with her fear of dying in a way that makes Edna seem triumphant. She revealed her suicide not as a defeat but as a triumph over social pressure and fears. Chopin used Edna’s death symbolizes her final awakening and her ability to overcome her obstacles.
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