The Awakening By Kate Chopin

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Immersion into the frame of mind of Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, is a fascinating experience, one with many conflicting internal and external influences. Like a marionette, Edna acts as a slave to her perceived social constraints in the beginning of The Awakening, a poignant contrast to her emotionally fueled, self-destructive choices towards the end. In the opening chapters of Edna’s story, she is described from an external viewpoint. Readers do not especially see the interworking of her thoughts and feelings through Chopin’s initial character sketch, “Mrs. Pontellier’s eyes were quick and bright; they were a yellowish brown, about the color of her hair” (5). Such a description is effective in producing a mental image of her appearance, yet her inner-identity remains a mystery. Although there is some foreshadowing lending readers to assume Edna’s dissatisfaction with her life, “She could not have told why she was crying. Such experiences as the foregoing were not uncommon in her married life” (Chopin 8). The true reasons for her distaste of being a housewife and mother are not revealed until later on. Eventually, the reader forms an understanding of Edna’s “lack of identity”, manifested through the relationships she becomes tangled in, from friendships to romance.
Throughout The Awakening, Edna Pontellier appears to exist in a semi-conscious state, failing to come to terms with reality. George Arms illustrates this theory in his critical essay,

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