Kate Chopin 's The Awakening Controversial Protagonist

1663 WordsOct 16, 20177 Pages
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening controversial protagonist - Edna Pontellier - lives a personally unsatisfying life with her idealistically perfect husband; a marriage that exists solely on the satisfaction of the Creole society they live in. In the beginning of the novel, she starts to struggle with the dominance of her outer identity that consists of how everyone sees her as the beautiful wife to a perfect, rich husband. But, when she is alone or with Robert, she begins to self-reflect on her inner identity that consists of how she sees herself and the new, rebellious freedoms that she desires. In The Awakening, the frequent symbolization of birds and the manner with how Edna interacts with music and the different men in her life illustrates…show more content…
Later on in the novel, Edna speaks about how Mademoiselle Reisz checks her shoulder blades for strength because “the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings” (Chopin 79). While many characters shut Reisz off because of how strange she is, Edna visits her because of their unspoken, mutual understanding of the significance of the potential power and precedence that her true, inner identity could hold if she let it fly free. At the end of the novel, Chopin describes a “bird with a broken wing” who circles “disabled down, down to the water” (108) to reflect how the strength of Edna’s inner identity breaks her because her spirit is too weak to maintain her desires alongside her realization that she could never be truly happy again in this time of unbreaking oppression and possession. Elz notes that if Edna continues to live that she will always be moving from relationship to relationship to satisfy her true desires, even though - in contrast - she wishes for her existence to not be defined by her relationships with men. “Like the mockingbird,” Elz continues, Edna “insists on her way” and therefore refuses to accept the roles society pushes on her and, in result, commits suicide as her inner identity wins and proves that she can not be controlled (20). Chopin especially reveals the growth of Edna’s inner identity through her increasingly conflicting interactions with her husband

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