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growaw Edna Pontellier’s Identity in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Identity in The Awakening

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is about a woman’s growing sense of identity. The novel takes place on an island south of New Orleans and in New Orleans. Edna Pontellier is 28 years old when she “wakes up”. Her husband Leonce Pontellier is much older than she – forty years old.

The Awakening opens when Mr. Pontellier – a businessman- is disturbed by the noise some parrots are doing. They repeat “Allez vous-en!” which means go away. It sounds such as an invitation to Edna to leave her cage of marriage. This is what she is doing in steps throughout the novel. The “parrot” image is very interesting because parrots can be trained to talk, and they repeat only what someone taught them. Edna refuses more and more to follow the rules women are trained in. She starts to look for a self-determined life. In Chapter VI Chopin writes “Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being.” She realizes this after going to the beach with Robert for a bath in the sea. The sea and swimming play an important role in this novel. The sea is an archetype of death and rebirth. In the beginning Edna experiences “the touch of the sea” as sensuous, and she seems to feel renewed. At the end she enters the water of the Gulf naked and feels “like some newborn creature.” When she dies, it seems that death and rebirth have met and the circle has closed. ( Teachers comment: Something is very wrong with the grammar here).

To underline that Edna is different from the typical women at Grand Isle and New OrleansChopin creates the character of Adele Ratignolle. She is described as the embodiment of the “mother- woman.” She seems to accept and enjoy her role as a wife and mother. She knows her duties and (in XIV) leaves Edna alone because Monsieur Ratignolle is alone at home and “he detested above all things to be left alone.” When Edna tells Adele “that she would never sacrifice herself for her children,” Adele does not understand. She fulfills her role as a mother and wife, whereas Edna wants to define her role new. She asks in Chapter XIII “How many years have I slept?” and Robert mentions later “All but the hundred years when you were sleeping.

growaw Edna Pontellier’s Rebirth in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Rebirth in The Awakening

Kate Chopin, author of The Awakening, focused a spotlight on some very dark corners of our society. As a woman, I want to have a voice in my marriage, and I want to make decisions along with my husband, if I decide to marry. In The Awakening, Edna is a married woman who does not want to be a wife or a mother. She is bound to her home and her husband who makes every important decision in their marriage.

Mr. Pontellier was a very demanding, know it all, kind of man. He expected his wife Edna to come to him at every beck and call. He never let Edna make any decisions of her own. For example, Edna couldn’t sleep one night, so she grabbed a shawl and sat at on her porch for a few early morning hours while her husband slept. He awoke, without her beside him, and demanded that she come in and go to bed. Why couldn’t she stay out on that porch and dream of good thoughts? She was a very unhappy woman, and many nights, she would cry for hours about her unhappiness.

In the third chapter she really expresses her true unhappiness with her husband and her children. She really has no interest in her children and caring for them as a mother. I can blame Edna, because she knew what she was in for when she married Leonce. But, I also feel sorry for her because reality hit her too late, and she’s miserable. I felt like she thought maybe giving it a chance with this man and bearing children, that she may learn to enjoy this life. WRONG!!

Leonce is a big pretender, especially in front of people. He sends chocolates and gifts to Edna, in which other women see and wish for that kind of husband. They don’t know the true kind of person he his. He is really not an ideal husband or father. He attends to his business and gambling with his friends while his wife is demanded to care for the children. If he was a true, loving husband, then he would take out some time to spend with his wife and help her out with the children.

Robert is a fun, caring man to women and he especially desires Edna. He sees her unhappiness and of course tries to comfort her.

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