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Identity And Society's Expectations In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

584 words - 2 pages

In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Edna Pontellier’s suicide is an assertion of her independence and contributes to Chopin’s message that to be independent one must choose between personal desires and societal expectations. Chopin conveys this message through Edna’s reasons for committing suicide and how doing so leads her to total independence.
Unlike the other women of Victorian society, Edna is unwilling to suppress her personal identity and desires for the benefit of her family. She begins “to realize her position in the universe as a human being and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (35). Edna’s recognition of herself as an individual as opposed to a submissive housewife is controversial because it’s unorthodox. When she commits suicide it’s because she cannot satisfy her desire to be an individual while society scorns her for not following the traditional expectations of women. Edna commits suicide because she has no other option. She wouldn’t be fulfilled by continuing to be a wife and a mother and returning to the lifestyle that she led before her self-discovery. However, she cannot simply leave her husband and start a life for herself because it would be extremely scandalous and her sons would be forced to live with her poor reputation. For these reasons Edna chooses her only viable option and commits suicide. This enforces Chopin’s feminist message because Edna is exercising her freedom and making this choice on her own. She isn’t allowing society to choose for her.
Edna’s ultimate assertion of independence occurs when she chooses to end her life. She has created her own set of beliefs and values that are no longer compatible with those of society. She realizes that she will never...

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