growaw Personal Growth and Death of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

growaw Personal Growth and Death of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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The Awakening:  Personal Growth and Death


 The Awakening is a novel about the growth of a woman becoming her own person; in spite of the expectations society has for her. The book follows Edna Pontellier  as she struggles to find her identity. Edna knows that she cannot be happy filling the role that society has created for her. She did not believe that she could break from this pattern because of the pressures of society. As a result she ends up taking her own life.  However, readers should not sympathize with her for taking her own life.

            Edna Pontellier was on her way to an awakening. She realized during the book, she was not happy with her position in life. It is apparent that she had never really been fully unaware  However, because her own summary of this was some sort of blissful ignorance. Especially in the years of life before her newly appearing independence, THE READER SEES HOW she has never been content with the way her life had turned out. For example she admits she married Mr. Pontellier out of convenience rather than love. EDNA knew he loved her, but she did not love him. It was not that she did not know what love was, for she had BEEN INFATUATED BEFORE, AND BELIEVED IT WAS love. She consciously chose to marry Mr. Pontellier even though she did not love him. When she falls in love with Robert she regrets her decision TO MARRY Mr. Pontellier. HOWEVER, readers should not sympathize, because she was the one who set her own trap. She did not love her husband when she married him, but SHE never once ADMITS that it was a bad decision. She attributes all the problems of her marriage to the way IN WHICH SOCIETY HAS defined the roles of men and women. She does not ACCEPT ANY OF THE BLAME, AS HER OWN.  The only other example of married life, in the book, is Mr. and Mrs. Ratignolle, who portray the traditional role of married men and women of the time. Mr. Pontellier also seems to be a typical man of society. Edna, ON THE OTHER HAND, was not A TYPICAL WOMAN OF SOCIETY. Mr. Pontellier knew this but OBVIOUSLY HAD NOT ALWAYS. This shows IS APPARENT in the complete lack of constructive communication between the two. If she had been able to communicate with her husband they may have been able to work OUT THEIR PROBLEMS, WHICH MIGHT HAVE MADE Edna MORE SATISFIED WITH her life.

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COMMUNICATION BETWEEN HER HUSBAND AND HERSELF could possibly have created AN outlet for her feelings of frustration, while she upheld the responsibilities that she had tied herself to. Instead of this, she began to rebel, but she ended up crossing the line. I BELIEVE THAT when a mother has children she cannot simply decide they do not need care JUST because she does not like to constantly play the role of a mother.  If Edna had not wanted children she should have told her husband and worked something out with him. CHILDERN ARE too big of a responsibility to completely disregard.  When she blew off her children she BECAME TOO REBELIOUS.  Another example of an instance where she went too far was the affair with Arobin. An affair with Robert would have been bad, but not quite as awful as the one with Arobin. This is because she loved Robert, but not Arobin. It is evidence of complete disrespect for her husband. She does not appreciate anything he has done for her. She has been completely IRRESPONSABLE and he has still been lenient. He did not even become hostile towards her when she moved into her own apartment, which would have been an understandable reaction for the time. He even tries to save her reputation by saying that they were remodeling their house, which was a very generous thing to do.

            Edna seems almost arrogant in some ways. She feels that other women are pitiful because they cannot see past the mask society placed over their faces. She develops an air of superiority. She reproaches their forms of social interaction, not stopping once to think that maybe the women enjoy meeting together to talk. She degrades their way of life completely, coming only to the conclusion that they choose to lead their lives the way they do because they are blind to the opportunity of freedom. EDNA HAD no right to scorn them because she DOES NOT PERSONALLY FEEL FREE. She recognizes her problems with infatuation but cannot break herself from the trend. She never awakens because she is never free from her obsession. One of the last lines of the book reads, “The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch.” To her death, she WAS never free from her preoccupation.

            One should not sympathize with Edna’s suicide for these reasons, among others. She made bad choices and could not even admit them. INSTEAD, she blamed them on society. Granted, THE SOCIETY SHE LIVED IN was not perfect, but it was also not the complete cause of her problems. She was also unreasonable in her means of dealing with her frustrations. Suicide is not a way of dealing with problems. Any alternative would have been infinitely better. Edna Pontellier did not commit suicide because her eyes had opened and she could not bear to live the life she saw. She committed suicide because she was a weak woman who became frustrated, when she could not cope with her problems. She committed an act of the greatest cowardice, and it is not something that should BE VIEWED with compassion.

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