Illustrating Freedom and Responsibility as an Opposing Dichotomy in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"
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In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, the author frames the notions of freedom and responsibility by contrasting them within an opposing dichotomy portrayed through the main character, Edna Pontellier, and through her subconscious denial of Creole responsibility while attaining freedom for her body, mind, and soul. Within this dichotomy the notions change inversely: the more freedom that is exercised by Edna because of unknown, and undisclosed, subconscious analysis deep in her mind, her sense of Creole responsibilities ebb proportionately. As these opposing forces ebb and flow, Chopin shows freedom in its basic and natural light—as being instinctive and as the normal state of a human being, evidenced by Edna Pontellier's actions flowing…show more content… But oddly, Chopin does not present this contrast of rebellion as a juxtaposition of the concepts of responsibility versus irresponsibility; instead, she lets defiance take its place, as seen here when Leonce perceives Edna's violation of a social norm: “'This is more than folly,'” he blurted out. “'I can't permit you to stay out here all night. You must come in the house instantly.'” [Leonce](Kindle location 584-600). In the paragraph which follows, she turns the tables neatly: ”With a writhing motion she settled herself more securely in the hammock. She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted. She wondered if her husband had ever spoken to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his command. Of course she had; she remembered that she had. But she could not realize why or how she could have yielded, feeling as she did then”(Kindle location 588).
Immediately, she says, “'Leonce, go to bed, ... I mean to stay out here. I don't wish to go in, and I don't intend to. Don't speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you'” [Edna] (Kindle location 589). It is here that she anchors her freedom. Her role as an obedient Creole wife has ended. The totality of her transformation to a