Essay about Edna Pontellier of The Awakening: A Woman before Her Time

Essay about Edna Pontellier of The Awakening: A Woman before Her Time

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Edna Pontellier is a woman of great needs. Although she has a husband who cares for her and two children, she is very unhappy. She plays her roles as a mother and wife often, but still keeps doing things unmarried, barren women should do: enjoy the company of other men, ignore her children's cries, dress unladylike for the times. The story is set in the late 1800's, when women were to be in the kitchen preparing a meal for their family, giving birth to more children to help with daily chores, or sitting quietly at home, teaching the children while the husband was at work. Edna Pontellier was a woman not of her time. At only 28, she would have rather been out gallivanting with different men, traveling with them, and painting whenever she got the urge. She could never have traveled with Robert, however bad she wanted to, because she was married. Divorce was unheard of. No one would want to marry a woman who had been married and divorced because she was spoiled or ruined. Not only would the men have shunned a divorced woman, many of the other women would have thought that the divorced woman was not filling her God-given role of a mother or wife. When Madame Ratignolle hears of Edna living alone and leaving her husband, she tells her that she "seems to [her] like a child" (Chopin, 127).

Two ways she does escape while still with her husband are her painting and her friendship with Madame Adele Ratignolle. Her friendship is refreshing and Edna learns a great deal from Madame Ratignolle. The madame is very expressive in her thoughts. It is suggested that this is because she is Creole. For Edna, being around Madame Ratignolle and her brash ways helps her to find out her true feelings. The strong friendship gives E...


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...nto a complicated character. In the beginning she seems to be just a woman who is displeased by her husband and feels trapped by her children. Through her many friendships and affairs, she develops into an uncaring woman. When she learns how to swim, it is like a birth for her. Even though her suicide is in the ocean, her life actually ended with her awakening. She began to push people away who loved her and get close to people who did not make any difference. Edna Pontellier was not of the 1800's, but of a more current time; a time when affairs, divorces, and suicides are more common. She may have ended up killing herself whether or not she was married, had children, or committed adultery, but the men in her life contributed greatly.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Bantam, 1899.

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