Art plays an important role in The Awakening. Edna Pontelier longs for both social and artistic freedom. As Edna begins to assert her independence, she begins also to take up painting as a way to express herself. In the opening of the novel, Edna dabbles with sketching. After the exhilarating evening at Grand Isle in which she learns to swim, Edna becomes an independent and assertive woman. This is reflected in her romantic inclinations towards Robert, her disregard of her husband’s wishes, and her ambitious artistic desires. She now aspires to become an artist. Back home, Edna begins to paint portraits in her atelier and devotes so much time to it that her husband chides her for neglecting her household duties. As she becomes more independent, Edna also begins to adopt an artistic style of her own. Edna defies societal protocols by pursuing female independence and by striving to become an artist.
“Edna’s pursuit of more original and serious art is directly linked to her development of greater self-pride and confidence, as well as to the emergence of her sensuality. The more she paints, the more confident she becomes in herself and in her work” (Dyer 91).
Edna’s awakening as a woman is paralleled by her artistic awakenings. As Edna awakens to her sensuality, she chooses sensuous models as her subjects, such as the house maid, whose lines and curves intrigues. Edna also awakens to her individuality, becoming more confident. Before the memorable experience at Grand Isle, Edna was dissatisfied with her paintings. Now she finds pleasure and takes pride in her work. This is linked to her becoming more assertive as a woman and individual.
However, Edna is unable to...