The Awakening was a very exciting and motivating story. It contains some of the key motivational themes that launched the women’s movement. It was incredible to see how women were not only oppressed, but how they had become so accustomed to it, that they were nearly oblivious to the oppression. The one woman, Edna Pontellier, who dared to have her own feelings was looked upon as being mentally ill. The pressure was so great, that in the end, the only way that she felt she could be truly free was to take her own life. In this paper I am going to concentrate on the characters central in Edna’s life and her relationships with them.
Leonce Pontellier, the character portraying Edna’s husband was a man very traditional in his thinking. He was self-absorbed and honestly did not see the fault in his own ways. He sincerely believed that Edna was the most important person in his life. However we notice throughout the story that his behavior was in direct contrast with that statement. Edna is only important to him, as in how she effects him and the effect her actions has on his life.
If we look at chapter three, Leonce comes home in the middle of the night, awakening his wife whom is fast asleep. He immediately beings to give her the details of his day. When she is unable to fully reply, because she is half asleep, he becomes upset. He states that she is the sole object of his existence and he is upset that she takes so little interest in his concerns. If she was indeed the sole object of his existence, he would have been more considerate than to awaken her in the middle of the night, because he wanted to talk.
Also look at chapter 32, when Leonce, learns that Edna is mov...
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...e will never have a taste of life’s delirium. Could this mean that as long as you do not take risks, float on the edge and cease being content, you do not truly live or enjoy the “craziness” of life?
More similar to Edna is Mademoiselle Reisz. Like Edna, Mademoiselle. Reisz was a free spirit who did not agree with oppression of women at that time. She was looked upon as being weird and mentally disturbed. Something was definitely wrong with a woman who did not care what others thought and whom chose her own path in life. Mademoiselle Reisz inspired Edna to be true to herself and defy the norms.
It was very appropriate that the ending scene took place at the sea, for it was ion the sea when Edna experienced her first taste of freedom (see Chapter ten). Edna finally empowered herself by deciding her own fate, instead of allowing others to choose it for her.
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