Kate Chopin's depiction of “The Awakening” is realistic as she develops Edna Pontellier’s character from a socially and morally respectable individual to an individual that turns her back on everything closest to her as she births her new self-being. Edna Pontellier struggles between her subconscious and conscious thoughts as unusual feelings stir unfounded emotions and senses. Some of Chopin’s characters lend themselves in Edna’s “awakening”. Through examination of Leonce Pontellier, Robert Lebrun, Madame Moiselle Reisz, Adele Ratignolle, and Alcee Arobin the life of Edna Pontellier turns into her ultimate death. The relationship she has with each one of these characters influences and initiates a lost feeling that has never risen to its complete capacity. As Edna awakens to this new self she becomes self absorbs and chooses herself-satisfaction over her family.
Edna and Leonce’s marriage didn’t start as two star crosses lovers, but more of convenience. Leonce pursued Edna and “fell in love” with her (Kate Chopin 32). Edna wasn’t in love with Leonce, but rather embraced the idea of defying her family. Kate Chopin states, “And to this violent opposition of her father and sister Margaret to her marriage with a Catholic, there is no need to search for the motive which led her to accept Leonce as her husband” (32). Leonce’s commitment to Edna satisfied her mind set. When Leonce “goes to join the calvary officer…” (33). Edna finds herself in the depths of the realization that she is left alone. This is the first of many times that Leonce leaves her. Although Leonce takes good care of his family financially, there is the definite absence of intimacy between he and Edna. It seems Edna has never had an intimate relationship, but has had intimate feelings of fascination. Chopin reveals, “she remembered feeling enarmored with a Kentuckian Calvary officer who came to visit her father, after he faded from her existence her mind turned to a gentleman who called upon a neighbor. He too vanished from her dreams” (31-32). Emerging from adolescence into puberty can stir a child’s emotions. They can become infatuated with virtually any attractable figure.
At this point in a child’s life he needs parental guidance. Since Edna’s mother is dead she was probably somewhat rebellious and though Leonce made her happy in the beginning their relation...
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...’t realize that there is anything wrong with her life until she meets those around her that are free from conformity. In Mme. Reisz, Edna admires and desires what she has which is independency. She doesn’t rely on anyone for anything. In Adele she sees the mother that she would like to be, but doesn’t want to bother. She cares more about her own satisfaction, independent of her family. Robert Lebrun stirred something up in Edna that she could not let alone. She felt aware of herself for the first time and she would seek it out until she was satisfied with herself. Edna’s awakening was apparently more than she could deal with, though we don’t really know if she intentionally swam out into the ocean to drown herself or if she just swam too far and was unable to swim back. Regardless of that thought Chopin must have intended for the possibility of either happening or she would have made a clear and precise account for Edna’s purpose. Chopin clearly defined each character in Edna’s life and how each one affected her during her awakening. Each one had a role in Edna’s life and played an important part in her awakening.
Kate Chopin. The Awakening. Oxford World Classics
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