Kate Chopin's The Awakening – In Defense of Edna Pontellier

Kate Chopin's The Awakening – In Defense of Edna Pontellier

Length: 841 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The Awakening – In Defense of Edna


Does everyone have the right to happiness?  It is stated in the

Constitution that we as Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.   In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin the main

Character Edna has a comfortable life.  A sweet loving husband, cute

children, enormous amounts of money and an extremely large house.  Yet with all

of this Edna is not fulfilled. Edna never took time to examine her life to see

what she wanted out of it.  After marriage, Edna wanted the freedom to

explore her mind, find herself and find what this person liked.  In the

following I will defend the actions Edna took to find her happiness as

irrational as they may seem.


This story took place in the late 1800's when women's liberation was never heard

of.  In this era women were supposed to find happiness in serving their husbands

and taking care of the children.  There were no other options within the

restrictive boundaries of marriage, and divorce was never an alternative.

Women's lives were austere and self enrichment or self gratification were often

times cast aside relative to the more mundane tasks of daily life.  Most women

accepted this but Edna did not.  She figured that life was more than constantly

doing for someone else.  She wanted time for herself in order to figure out who

she was.  Some may see this as selfish but everyone is entitled to “me” time and

space.  Although I admit she did not go about it in the best way at times; Edna

still was in going in the right direction.


Edna's marriage to Leonce Pontellier was to spite her father the Colonel because

Leonce was of a different religious faith.  Also, Leonce was unceasingly devoted

to Edna which was something that had never occurred in any other relationship.

Edna, who had not experienced many male relationships before this was naive when

it came to men.  This naiveté affected her in such a way that she neither knew

love and it's limitations nor the experience it took to make it through a

relationship.  This showed Edna's immaturity which was a big issue in this story.

This shown as the woman inside who had been asleep all those years. Her

relationship with Leonce was what she sought to find happiness in.


After six years of marriage to Leonce,  Edna felt an ever-growing void in her

life.  She gave up all of her responsibilities such as taking care of her

children when they were sick and she never spent time playing with them.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Kate Chopin's The Awakening – In Defense of Edna Pontellier." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Oct 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Awakening By Kate Chopin Essay

- In 2011, the film called: The Awakening was relaeased. Which is not to be confused with the book of the same title by Kate Chopin. Even though there were mixed reviews on the movie, it should not take away that this would be a dream for all Sigmund Freud enthusasists. There is a number of elements that correspond to his thoeries on personality and psychoanalysis. The film is about Florence Cathcart, an author and debunker of the supernatural, sometime in post-World War I. After a boy 's death, she is requested to investigate a boarding school that is reportedly having sighting a ghost on the grounds....   [tags: Sigmund Freud, Oral stage]

Research Papers
1387 words (4 pages)

Essay about The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

- Illogical, submissive, and sensual are some of the words used to describe the view of women during the nineteenth century. In the novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin tells the controversial story of a woman, Edna Pontellier, and her spiritual growing. Throughout the story, Edna constantly battles between her heart’s desires and society’s standard. The novel shows how two women’s lives influence Edna throughout the novel. Mademoiselle Reisz and Madame Ratignolle are both in their own way strong, motherly influences in Edna’s life....   [tags: awakening, kate chopin]

Research Papers
1258 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Chopin's The Awakening is full of symbolism.  Rather than hit the reader on the head with blunt literalism, Chopin uses symbols to relay subtle ideas.  Within each narrative segment, Chopin provides a symbol that the reader must fully understand in order to appreciate the novel as a whole.  I will attempt to dissect some of the major symbols and give possible explanations as to their importance within the text.  Art itself is a symbol of both freedom and failure.  In her attempt to become an artist, Edna reaches the zenith of her awakening.  She begins to truly understand pure art as a means of self-expression as well as self-assertion.  In a si...   [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays Kate]

Research Papers
1483 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Birth in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Birth in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Birth, whether of children or desires, plays a strong motif throughout The Awakening. The four components of childbirth, which Edna—the novel’s main character—recalls as she witnesses her friend Madame Ratignolle give birth, represent major themes Chopin emphasizes throughout her novel. These four components are “ecstasy of pain, the heavy odor of chloroform, a stupor which had deadened sensation, and an awakening to find a little new life” (133). In childbirth, the first three components are necessary to achieve the fourth: the awakening to find a new life....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
2916 words (8.3 pages)

Essay on Kate Chopin's The Awakening

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin's novella The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman who throughout the novella tries to find herself. Edna begins the story in the role of the typical mother-woman distinctive of Creole society but as the novelette furthers so does the distance she puts between herself and society. Edna's search for independence and a way to stray from society's rules and ways of life is depicted through symbolism with birds, clothing, and Edna's process of learning to swim....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening]

Free Essays
1023 words (2.9 pages)

Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening expresses the difficulty of finding a woman’s place in society. Edna learns of new ideas such as freedom and independence while vacationing in Grand Isle. Faced with a choice to conform to society’s expectations or to obey personal desires for independence, Edna Pontellier realizes that either option will result in dissatisfaction. Thus, Edna’s awakening in Grand Isle leads to her suicide. Edna’s awakening occurs during her family’s vacation in Grand Isle....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
1346 words (3.8 pages)

Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

- Kate Chopin's The Awakening In Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening, written approximately one hundred years ago, the protagonist Edna Pontellier's fate is resolved when she 'deliberately swims out to her death in the gulf'(Public Opinion, np). Her own suicide is indeed considered as a small, almost nonexistent victory by many, nevertheless there are those who consider her death anything but insignificant. Taking into consideration that 'her inability to articulate her feelings and analyze her situation [unattainable happiness] results in her act of suicide...'(Muirhead, np) portrays Edna as being incapable of achieving a release from her restricted womanhood as imposed by society....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays Papers]

Research Papers
1495 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about Kate Chopin The Awakening

- Kate Chopin The Awakening To what extent does Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, mark a departure from the female characters of earlier nineteenth-century American novels The Awakening was published in 1899, and it immediately created a controversy. Contemporaries of Kate Chopin (1851-1904) were shocked by her depiction of a woman with active sexual desires, who dares to leave her husband and have an affair. Instead of condemning her protagonist, Chopin maintains a neutral, non-judgmental tone throughout and appears to even condone her character's unconventional actions....   [tags: Kate Chopin The Awakening Literature Papers]

Research Papers
2358 words (6.7 pages)

Kate Chopin's Awakening Essay

- Kate Chopin's Awakening 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....   [tags: Kate Chopin Awakening Essays]

Research Papers
1462 words (4.2 pages)

Awakening Essay

- When Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" was published at the end of the 19th Century, many reviewers took issue with what they perceived to be the author's defiance of Victorian proprieties, but it is this very defiance with which has been responsible for the revival in the interest of the novel today. This factor is borne out by Chopin's own words throughout her Preface -- where she indicates that women were not recipients of equal treatment. (Chopin, Preface ) Edna takes her own life at the book's end, not because of remorse over having committed adultery but because she can no longer struggle against the social conventions which deny her fulfillment as a person and as a woman....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
2436 words (7 pages)

Related Searches


shows a contrast between her inner self which was “awakening” and her outer self

as a mother and a wife.   At first, her character is portrayed as accepting of

the “outer role” in which she has to play.  Soon after though she finds out that

she can have fulfillment too.  Edna's “awakening” occurs and she is able to grow

spiritually, intimately and emotionally.  Her life is confined as if in a cage.

This confinement is represented by the parrot in the story squaking in French “

Get out!”.  He was caged and he was screaming to leave.  The same is true of

Edna's heart.   It was screaming for freedom and independence in her monotonous

life.  This resulted in her moving into the “pigeon house” that she purchased,

which was a small house she bought around the corner from the Pontellier's

mansion.  There Edna displayed her independence by her lack of acceptance of the

things that Leonce had bought for her and proved to everyone including herself

that no one had to be dependent on what society called the “moral way of living.”



In the end Edna swims naked into the ocean that was so free and open freeing

herself from societies restrictions.  She swam out smoothly and fearlessly and

there she gave up herself to the ocean.  Her decision to free herself of earthly

bonds was made with great resolve.  Edna had made her decision.  She swam out

and made the ultimate sacrifice...... herself.  Edna knew she was born in the

right place at the wrong time and there was nothing this life had to offer her.

There was no room for free thinking women.  She had two choices these being

either to live her whole life in misery and hide her spirit and soul, or to

sacrifice herself, that is her outer being and keep her dignity and essence.

Edna chose the latter as she gracefully left this world.


All of Edna's actions were not unintentional.  She knew what she wanted like

most, but Edna was the only woman to have the courage and the determination to

go on the road less traveled.  This story showed Edna's awakening, and her

realization that she had options and did not have to go along.  This was her

revelation but she knew that society would never accept it so she killed herself

with dignity instead of being just another shadow.

Return to 123HelpMe.com