The Awakening of Edna Pontellier

2487 WordsAug 31, 201110 Pages
The Awakening of Edna Pontellier Kate Chopin’s short story The Awakening is set during a time where women were expected to live in a patriarchal society. More specifically, this story tells of the well-to-do Creole lifestyles in New Orleans during the mid to late Nineteenth Century. Chopin’s personal experiences as a woman during this oppressive time and her growth as an individual inspired her to write about Edna Pontellier, a woman who tries to break from the expectations of society to be her own woman. As Edna Pontellier in The Awakening experiments with the oppositional or alternative roles of Adele Ratignolle, Mademoiselle Reisz and of herself in the role of a "free woman," she gradually transforms into an individual apart…show more content…
It was during this conversation that Edna was called to Adele’s side during the painful and dangerous childbirth of her fourth child. She asks Robert to wait for her return and leaves him alone in her home. Adele senses that Edna is changing even more and asks her to please think of her children before she completely rejects the patriarchal lifestyle that was expected of them. Edna, after seeing Adele, begins to feel guilty and thinks maybe she has acted too selfishly. She returns home and finds a note from Robert saying good-bye. Understanding that Robert wasn’t capable of breaking free of the constraints and expectations of him even if he did love and want to be with her coupled with Adele’s advice wakes Edna up to a reality that devastates her. Feeling that she is alone and unable to belong in the world she returns to Grand Isle, the location where she achieved her new sense of freedom. Her final escape is swimming out to sea thinking of all those who never understood her but knowing that she could never give herself to them in the way that they all expected and needed (The Awakening and Other Short Stories 1-240). In her critical analysis of The Awakening, Jennifer B. Gray believes that “Edna’s awakening allows her to resist the various “interpellations” of the dominant patriarchal ideology and experiment with both alternative and oppositional roles” (Gray 53-73).
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