The Awakening 3 Essay, Research Paper
Make Your Choice
What is the purpose of life? What are we all reaching for? Many have pondered on this subject and have come to one conclusion happiness. However, it is our choice whether to reach this state or not. In Kate Chopin s work, The Awakening, the main character, Edna, made her choice. She chose to be a slave to the world. She chose to live in the shadow of her husband. She chose to give into her society. It was these choices that kept her from her true passions and dreams, which was to live for herself. As one can see, sacrificing oneself for the good of another inhibits one from attaining true happiness.
Many philosophers have dealt with the question of whether to live a life of servitude or to pursue one s greater happiness. Immanuel Kant stipulates that the more people cultivate their reason, the less likely they are to find happiness. He states that everyone is/should be aware of his/her duty, or how one ought to act. Everyone has a goal within himself/herself, and it is his/her responsibility to reach for it and achieve it. In The Awakening, Edna does not take responsibility. She tries her entire life to fit in the prescribed mold that her husband set for her. She invests so much time into duty and responsibility that she loses any happiness that she hoped to achieve. She was not aware of her responsibility as a human being. She was not aware of one s rational powers in the exercise of moral duty. Edna knew she was not happy living as a puppet. She wanted a change. With time, Kant noted, the person who devotes their life to reason finds themselves needing a release, in the end despising reason, and eventually pursuing only their true happiness.
In keeping with Kant s philosophy, Edna s life has been riddled with reason and duty, essentially giving herself away to the people around her. This devotion to those people causes her to break away from her normal life and moves her to focus on finding her inherent happiness. After being reasonable for the twenty-eight years of her life, Edna breaks down. She wants to pursue love and disregard her duty to her husband and children. She falls in what she considers girlish love with the character Robert. She proclaims to him, I love you only you; no one but you. It was you who awoke me last summer out of a life-long, stupid dream. After a whole life of servitude to others, Edna realizes that the only way for her to be happy is to do what she wants to do. She realizes that she needed a change, and when she finds Robert, she does her best to make that change. When she makes that change, she finds the life she was looking for. She has suffered and now you are here and we shall love each other. Nothing else in the world is of any consequence. She did not care anymore about anything else. She was uplifted of her duties as a wife and as a mother. They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul. All she cared about was her happiness, and being with Robert made her happy.
A person should live life by pursuing their abilities and using those abilities to the greatest effect to achieve whatever goals one may set for themselves. Ayn Rand s objectivism states that man exists for his own sake and the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose. She states that the reason for life, the reason for existence is to satisfy one s needs. It is to live life as one wants to, and not let others affect the outcome of one s life. No one should not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice other to himself. Every man should live for himself. Every man should live in pursuit of his abilities. Selfish? Most certainly. Every man has a right to exist for himself- and not to sacrifice himself for others. Further, her philosophy states that working for another s good or sacrificing yourself for another s happiness goes against the very nature of existence.
Edna was not engaged in the pursuit of her finest abilities. She lived her life for others, not for herself. She was often put down because she failed in her duty toward their children. For the duration of her marriage, she stayed in her place as a childbearing wife, doing little but existing for the pleasures of her husband more as prized token than a companion. Her whole life, she lived the life her husband wanted her to. She never lived the life she wanted to. She had lived her own small life all within herself. She never challenged the extent of her abilities. She never attempted to transgress what was set for herself in her life. She never experienced what life had to offer or what she had to offer. She kept her abilities within herself, and that is what kept her from moving on and doing what made her happy.
Edna had made her choice. This choice was to live a life of servitude to others. After time however, she realizes this was the wrong choice. She realizes living for her husband and living for her children does not make her happy. She also realizes that happiness only comes when she lives for herself. Nonetheless, it was too little and too late. She had nowhere else to turn. Her only choice was breathing her last breath, suicide. This was the only way she could free herself of the world. She had done too much to go on, and too much to turn back.