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Edna's Transcendence Of Society A Review Of Kate Chopin's The Awakening

1081 words - 4 pages

Edna's Transcendence of Society - A reviwe of Kate Chopin's The AwakeningThe end of The Awakening provokes many questions, namely; what really happens? And what does it mean? While I cannot tell you for sure what Kate Chopin intended, I can make assumptions based on the information in the text. Throughout the whole book, Edna again and again asserts her strength, as she refuses anything to be forced upon her, and pursues that which fulfills her mind and body.Before any in depth analysis can be made, one has to decide whether or not Edna dies at the end of the book. While there is some debate on the matter, I feel that the evidence points more towards her impulsive suicide than anything else. Chopin writes that Edna swims so hard for so long, that she turns and realizes that she does not have enough energy to make it back to shore. Clearly, it states that she cannot make it back to shore, and so she must drown. However, it is also clearly an impulsive act, as she 'suddenly' realized she could not make it back. Another clue as to its spontaneity is the fact that Edna asks what is for dinner, and then specifically requests fish. One would assume that someone who is planning suicide would not request a specific dish for dinner. So, based upon the information, Edna most likely dies at the end of the story in an impulsive suicide. That said there is the matter as to whether this suicide is society's triumph over Edna, or is it in fact Edna's triumph over society?At the beginning of the story, Edna quickly finds herself unable to tend to her responsibilities, and desperately seeking personal fulfillment. Though she cares for both her children and her husband, she does not love them in the way necessary for either her happiness or theirs. There is something lacking, she exists as merely a token for her husband, and a caregiver for her children. She is nothing to them that anyone else could not be. Edna invests so much time into duty and responsibility, and trying to fit into a mold that her personality does not allow her to fit, that it is impossible for her to find happiness. With time, the person that devotes their life to being reasonable and doing what is expected of them eventually comes to despise reason and needs a release. Here is the point where society's norms begin to take a toll on Edna. She finally has a breakdown at their summer vacation home and throws reason to the wind, slyly pursuing love and falling down on her duties to her family. Here you begin to see Edna rebelling against society's repression of her free spirit and searching for her own happiness. She makes the decision to redefine her position in life.One of the touchiest points in this story is that as Edna fights against the norms of society, she lets her humanity begin to slip away, and allows selfishness to take over. At one point she explains to Mrs. Ratignolle that, "I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I...

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