Suicide as the Best Option in Kate Chopin's AwakeningSuicide as the Best Option in Kate Chopin's Awakening

Suicide as the Best Option in Kate Chopin's AwakeningSuicide as the Best Option in Kate Chopin's Awakening

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Suicide as the Best Option in Kate Chopin's Awakening


The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, was considered controversial at the time it was first published in 1892 because of its intense sexual context. In fact, the critics of that era wrote in newspapers and magazines about the novel "it’s not a healthy book," "sex fiction," "we are well satisfied when Ms. Pontellier deliberately swims to her death," "an essential vulgar story," and "unhealthy introspective and morbid" (Wyatt). Edna, the main character, engages in sexual relationships outside of marriage. These encounters reveal true sexual passion to Edna, which she did not receive at home with her husband. As a result of these experiences Edna’s ability to continue living in a loveless marriage dwindles, and she eventually commits suicide. Although Edna had other options such as divorce, remaining in a loveless marriage, or simply deserting her family, suicide is most viable.

One alternative, a separation, could have been hard to accomplish for Edna because of the male-dominated society that she lived in. However, it was a possibility. In fact, an author by the name of Charlotte Perkins Gilman received a divorce from her husband, Walter Stetson, prior to the creation of The Awakening. Through serious bouts with depression Gilman’s marriage to Stetson became a struggle, and her divorce was granted in 1894. Stetson received custody of their daughter Katherine. Similarly, Edna would have probably lost custody of her children, but she said it herself that she is not a mother woman ("About Charlotte Gilman"). Gilman eventually moved on and remarried in June 1900. Edna’s aspirations of marrying Robert could have possibly come true.

With this possibility in mind, suici...


... middle of paper ...


...escaping. What made matters worse was that Edna found a real lover that would not accept being known as the man who stole Mr. Pontellier’s wife. Edna was obviously placed in situation where she was left with all but one choice.

Works Cited

"About Mary Cassatt." 1999. http://www.boston.com/mfa/cassat/aboutmc.htm (4 April 2000).

"About the Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman." 1998. http://www.Trenton.edu/~verasteg/aboutcp.htm. (20 March 2000).

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 1892. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.

"Louisiana Civil Law: Differences Fading Over Time." 1999. http://www.theadvocate.com/help/welcome/laws.asp (18 March 2000).

"The Woman’s Rights Movement." 1999. http://www.lyno.com.edu/~tlkinnon/Women’s%Rights.htm (3, March 2000).

Wyatt, Neal. "Times of Kate Chopin." 1995. http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng384/kate.htm (21 March 2000).

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