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Edna’s awakening, from the beginning in Grand Isle, to her life in New Orleans and finally her death back in Grand Isle, takes place quite suddenly. She goes from a quiet, reserved lady, to an outspoken, strong-willed woman. Despite this dramatic change, one characteristic remained constant throughout the book. She was very confused about who she was and what she wanted in life. She is pursued by Robert, and is surprised when feelings for him stir inside her. At the beginning of the book, she dismisses him, mainly because she was married.
“Mrs. Pontellier was glad he had not assumed a similar role toward herself. It would have been unacceptable and annoying.”
As the weeks go on, her attitude changes greatly. Her response to Robert is one of love and passion.
“I love you,” she whispered “only you, no one but you…” (page 179, fifth paragraph).
Edna often doesn’t understand her emotions and what is going on in her head, and she also frequently misinterprets them. Because of this she is a very unpredictable character, her actions and words are inconsistent in their messages.
“Edna Pontellier could not have told why, wishing to go to the beach with Robert, she should in the first place have declined, and in the second place have followed in obedience to one of the two contradictory impulses which impelled her."
“Yes,” she said. “The years that are gone seem like dreams- if one might go on sleeping and dreaming- but to wake up and find- oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even if to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”
She seemed to welcome her awakening and, at first, enjoyed it. There were drawbacks to it though, just as benefits. People around her were deeply hurt by some of her independent, and sometimes self-absorbed, actions. By letting her feelings for Robert in, she discovered passion, but at the same time, pain and loss. The thought of continuing her life the way it was, and not being able to be with Robert drove her to such despair she came to the conclusion it was better off not living. As sad as this seems, she was at peace with herself when she died, which ultimately was all that she was striving for.
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