Kate Chopin's The Awakening Essay

1350 Words 6 Pages
Kate Chopin's The Awakening

Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening expresses the difficulty of finding a woman’s place in society. Edna learns of new ideas such as freedom and independence while vacationing in Grand Isle. Faced with a choice to conform to society’s expectations or to obey personal desires for independence, Edna Pontellier realizes that either option will result in dissatisfaction. Thus, Edna’s awakening in Grand Isle leads to her suicide.

Edna’s awakening occurs during her family’s vacation in Grand Isle. It is here that she learns to freely express herself and be unreserved in her behavior and speech. Through the Creole women, Edna becomes free from the chains that bind her to societal expectations. Adele
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The two main women in Edna’s life serve as foils of each other and static characters to which Edna can compare. Adele Ratignole presents the ideal, socially-accepted woman figure. She exemplifies all that is perfect: devoted wife seeking only to please her spouse, loving mother, knowledgeable, conventional, “mother-woman,” elegant, charming, simple, and servant to both her family and society. Completely opposite of the dependent woman is Mademoiselle Reisz who personifies all that Adele would disgust. Reisz remains isolated from society, shunned as a recluse for her passion of music. She is unpopular, solitary, unmarried, childless, but also courageous, passionate, independent, inspired, and free. The two figures rest on polar ends of a societal spectrum. This distance creates a horrific gap within which Edna finds herself. Edna identifies with both women, having qualities and tendencies of each. This dual connection complicates Edna’s identity; she cannot fully embody either woman type while she possesses qualities of the other. Edna remains in a situation in which success cannot be achieved.

Edna’s awakening allows the two distinct female models of society to become clear, and her awakening causes her to feel unable to conform to either model. Edna’s arousal is that which opens her eyes to see her potential apart from her current life. Spending time in Grand Isle unveils a new
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