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The Relationship Between Knowledge, Grief, and Empowerment

Good Essays
The first chapter of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Bible, concludes with the words, “For in much wisdom is much grief, and increase of knowledge is increase of sorrow.” This quotation explains that the more you understand and discover about the world the more despondent you will become. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin shows that knowledge can cause grief while knowledge can also cause empowerment and self-fulfillment.

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin demonstrates that enhancing an individual’s knowledge can also increase their grief and unhappiness. Edna Pontellier spends most of her summer at Grande Isle with Robert. Robert awakens the “symptoms of infatuation” that she had when she was a young woman. Edna states that her husband seemed “like a person whom she had married without love as an excuse." The quote demonstrates that Edna recognizes that she does not love her husband and has come to the realization that their relationship is completely devoid of passion. Dissatisfied with her marriage, Edna dreams of being with Robert. The realization of her love for Robert causes Edna much grief because she understands that she can never act on her feelings for Robert because of her marriage to Leonce. Edna also realizes that she is discontent with her role in society. Society expects Edna to act like a loving mother and devoted wife. The typical “mother-woman” was expected to “idolize their children and worship their husbands.” Edna was not a typical “mother-woman”. When her kids fell while playing they would not come to her like most “mother-tots.” They would simply pick themselves back up, wipe the sand out of their mouths, and continue playing. Society also expects Edna to devote all of her time to her children. Edna states that...

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While both sides present valid points, the fact that knowledge causes grief offers the more persuasive case. Although knowledge causes Edna to empower her life, the empowerment quickly fades. The grief and sadness caused by Edna’s dissatisfaction with her marriage and role as a mother overshadow Edna’s attempt to fulfill her life. Edna’s suicide at the end of the novel offers the most convincing piece of evidence. Edna can see no other choice but to take her own life in order to escape the grief and frustration of her life.

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin shows that knowledge can cause grief as well as empowerment. However, the most convincing case supports the fact that wisdom and knowledge cause grief and sorrow. The fact that Edna saw no other option but to commit suicide clearly shows that “an increase of knowledge is an increase of sorrow.”
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