Edna’s Fall from Grace in The Awakening
In the novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin tells of Edna Pontellier's struggle with fate. Edna Pontellier awakens from a slumber only to find that her life is displeasing, but these displeasing thoughts are not new to Edna. The actions taken by Edna Pontellier in the novel The Awakening clearly determine that she is not stable. The neglect of her duties as a wife and mother and as a woman of society are all affected by her mental state. Her choices to have affairs and disregard her vow of marriage represent her impaired judgment. The change in her attitude and interests becomes quite irresponsible, and that change along with her final decision to commit suicide tell the reader that Edna Pontellier is not capable of making valid judgments. Had Edna Pontellier been of sound mind and body, she would not have ended her young life by suicide. The fact that she can clearly and easily turn to such an alternative suggests that she is depressed and obviously in opposition to the church. The thoughts and actions of Edna Pontellier are solely determined by her manic depressive state, her apparent repressed abuse from her childhood, and her abandonment of Christianity.
Throughout the novel the reader gets a clear sense of Edna Pontellier's peculiar mind and her manic depressive state. She is continually plagued by the moment. Her mood shifts from highs to lows show the reader that a sadness is perpetually within her:
We are told there are days when she "was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with sunlight.." On such days Edna "found it good to be alone and unmolested." Yet on other days, she is molested by despondencies so severe that "it did not seem worthwhile to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling towards inevitable annihilation." (Platizky 100)
When she chooses such a selfish path, she casts her depression upon the members of her family and her friends. Her disposition clearly affects their lives on a regular basis. Edna Pontellier defies her husband and is ready to depart from her children at any time. Counseling of some sort for her temperament might encourage her to put her family's needs before herself. She constantly enjoys her freedom and abandons her responsibilities, displaying a childlike ideal of reality. Edna frequently likes to be alone throughout the novel. She mentions feeling caged and sets out to free herself by moving to another house, when, contrary to her immature thoughts, she is still very much in the same predicament. These actions do not help Edna to better her condition. The lows manic depressives experience can be detrimental, and by placing herself in an isolated atmosphere, she is making her problem greater:
But alone Edna is prey to suicidal thoughts, the voices which distort the victim's choices and exaggerate her plight. Edna's...