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The Awakening

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 8 months ago

In The Awakening, Edna has two children and a controlling husband. She struggles to fit her role in society as a mother and wife and fights to find her own identity. Her husband fits the typical male role of the time; working to support the family. He expects his wife to care for the children and run the house. Mr. Pontellier states, “If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it?” This clearly shows what expects in a wife and his lack of concern for her mental welfare. He ignores the fact that she sleeps a lot and cries alone in the darkness. He also discourages her from painting and having freedom to leave the house as she pleases.

 

Edna starts to find her identity when she defies her husbands wishes to enter the house when called. She feels liberated when she finally noticed how good it felt to resist his insistence. Edna states, “…Don’t speak to me like that again; I shall not answer you.” When Edna starts to focus on her painting and ignoring her “wifely” duties, her husband begins to think she is unstable mentally. He is afraid of her new found freedom and angered by her nonchalant attitude toward her responsibilities. At the time, a husband had the right to beat an insolent woman for this type of behavior.

 

When her husband went to New York and her children were sent to Iberville, Edna feels the weight of her life’s responsibilities lift away. She missed the children, but she does not want the responsibility of caring for them. She wants to be her own person and will not let her family hold her back. When she buys the new house, she does not want her husband or children any more. Her paintings are selling well and she can easily support herself. At the time, most women rushed into marriage so they could be taken care of. She married her husband as an excuse to get out of her parents home.

 

Edna finds a forbidden love in Robert and becomes very depressed when he goes to Mexico. She fantasizes about their next meeting for months, and she becomes obsessed with it. She becomes acquainted with Alcee Arobin and is embarrassed when he kisses her. She does not care about her husband, but is worried that Robert will disapprove. When Robert comes back, she is crushed when he does not wait for her and leaves a letter instead. After reading the letter, she realizes that when her husband comes back, she will no longer have freedom. As she enters the water, she knows that she cannot go back to her oppression. She even wonders if the doctor could have helped her if she had gone to see him. In death, she finally finds freedom and no longer suffers from depression in silence.

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