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Edna's Suicide In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

939 words - 4 pages

Edna's Suicide in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

At the end of Kate Chopin's novel „The Awakening" the protagonist Edna commits suicide.
The remaining question for the reader is: Does Edna's suicide show that she succeeded or failed in her struggle for independence?

Edna's new life in independency seems to be going well especially after Robert had returned from Mexico. The lover, who she met during her vacation at Grand Isle, told her that he loves her and he wants to marry her.
But her mood changes when her friend Adéle tells her that she should care more about her family as she does not spend enough time with her family because of her affairs.
Robert leaves Edna behind because Edna does not give a clear answer to his marriage proposal.
Afterwards she starts thinking about her life, her psychological and physical "awakening "and her children.
She invites her friends for dinner and returns to Grand Isle, where she pretends to go for swimming but never came back from the water.

In my essay, I would like to reflect upon Edna's options and decisions which she could have taken in order to avoid the suicide.
One way could have been to marry another man or remain married with Leonce and stay with her children. This option is not possible for her because she would be a man's trophy again and could not keep up her ideas of independence. Besides that, this would imply that she loses all that she has fought for or gained throughout the liberation process.
Man at that time would have wanted her to live as a " mother woman", "wom(a)n who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels" (Chapter IV).
Edna is no mother woman to her family; and she does not want to be a mother woman. This becomes more and more obvious throughout the liberation process. She does not want to keep herself hidden from the outside world, unable to transcend the social barriers. However, Adéle Ratignolle represents the typical mother woman in the novel, who has accepted and embodied this socially constructed role. She does her duties without questioning her existence and she lets herself be locked in a "cage". Edna realizes that she does not want a life deprived of independence and freedom. She does not want to be locked up in a cage and that her wings are not clipped yet and she still has got a chance to break through to barriers.
Considering this, it is very unlikely that Edna would have married Robert:
She would have wanted to live with him in an "awakened life" where she can be free and independent. For Edna it is impossible to be his wife only to cover up Roberts's...

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