Awakening To Freedom Essay, Research Paper
Jennifer Poisson Take-Home Essay Test
En 262 05/02/2001
Awakening to Freedom
Awakening or to awake means “to wake up; to be or make alert or watchful” (Webster 23). This is what Edna Pontellier experienced in The Awakening.
There has been some discussion over the appropriateness of the ending to this story. Was it appropriate for Edna to commit suicide? Yes, this story of Edna Pontellier, including the ending, is appropriate to what a woman probably would have felt like if she were in that time feeling what Edna was feeling.
Edna committed suicide because there was no other way out. She did not fit into society. Her thoughts and emotions were not the same as the thoughts and emotions of the other women of this time. Edna committed suicide so that she could be reborn in a time that she would be excepted as she was.
Edna was ahead of her time. She wanted a life for herself. She didn’t want her husband or her children to establish it for her. “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself” (Chopin 573). This is not something that a women of her time would have thought about. The children always came first.
As Edna began to break away from the normal aspects of life in her time, she became more open to the world around her. “Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (547). She looked at and heard things as if for the first time. “The very first chords which Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column” (556). She decided that she would move out of her house with her husband and children and would move into a small apartment by herself. This is something that women of her day simple did not do. Edna was different.
Everything seemed new to her. She began to paint for a living. Most women of her time did not work, but relied on their husbands for support. She rarely missed her children and only visited them once the entire summer. Edna felt alone.
She attached herself to young men that she thought would take her away from the place where she didn’t belong. She fell in love with Robert because he was the one who started the awakening. “It was you who awoke me last summer out of a life-long, stupid dream” (620). She imagined that he would take her away to a place where they could be happy and she could be who she wanted.
Edna was wrong. Robert was a man of the times. He didn’t believe in Edna’s ways.
When Edna came back, Robert was gone. “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (623).
Edna had no one. She didn’t have anyone to love her for who she was. She didn’t have anyone to talk to about it that would understand. The only way out was to go back to the sea, the only place she felt she belonged. “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation” (547). As she stood looking out over the sea “she felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known” (625).
Chopin, Kate. “The Awakening.” The Harper American Literature. Ed. Donald
McQuade. New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1993.
Webster’s Classic Reference Library Dictionary. Ohio: Landoll’s, 1999.