The Awakening-Isolation Essay, Research Paper
Was isolation the key to a woman s independence in the 19th Century? Kate Chopin s novel, The Awakening, presents women as helpless creatures who are subject to all means besides personal beliefs. The main character, Edna Pontellier, strives to find the self-independence that she deems necessary. Through many attempts of evolution, Edna finds the worst to be her escape.
Edna s suicide is the last, and perhaps best, choice she makes for herself. The choice of suicide is brought upon Mrs. Pontellier because of the desire for freedom and independence. Consequently, Edna undergoes many strenuous endeavors to possess these qualities. Throughout the novel, Edna attempts, in many ways, to find the freedom and independence that she seeks. The first effort put forth by Edna is her lustful aspirations for Robert. While in Grand Isle, Mrs. Pontellier reviews the validity of the affair, wondering if it will give her ease. However, Edna s thoughts stay within her soul, going no further for the moment. At this point in the novel, Edna has tasted independence, and she knows what she wants. However, while she knows what she wants, she does not yet understand what she must do. Furthermore, Edna s turning point rounds here. Edna s affair with Arobin, poses as a realization that nothing will come of it; today Arobin, tomorrow someone else (pg. 188). Edna tries yet another feat, by moving from her house. Mrs. Pontellier considers that the possibility of having her own house will get her away from the ties between Leonce and herself. However, in doing so, Edna sets another tie between Robert and herself. Every path Mrs. Pontellier tries to make seems to go against her desire for independence; thus, it leads to the conclusion that nothing will work.
According to an unsigned article from The Daily Picayune, it is against her husband that a woman must make a stand, unless her whole married life is to degenerate into a kind of purgatory. Perhaps this supports the understanding that Edna has no other choice but suicide. Edna does not wish to spend her life bonded to a husband, children, or even affairs. Edna will always be somewhat attached to every relationship she encounters. She will always have the responsibility of a wife if she would stay with Leonce. In terms of her children, Edna will always be committed to them. Furthermore, affairs will lead to marriage, and she knows neither Arobin nor Robert will satisfy her. In addition to husband, children, and affairs, society will eventually pay a toll on Edna s emotions. Edna will never be freed of the standards that are set; thus, an escape is sought.
Susan Rosowski best summarizes Edna s choices: Edna s suicide represents her final attempt to escape-to escape her children, her lovers, and most important, time and change. For only by complete isolation of self can Edna be truthful to her inner life. Thus concluding that Edna s choice is best prepared for the time. Society will not accept her if she abandons her husband and children, nor will they accept her if she commits suicide. Although Edna tries many paths, many different choices to avoid drastic obstacles in order to gain independence, freedom and independence will never have the approval of society. Thus, suicide is the only way out, in order to avoid society and standards in whole.