The Implications Of Self Expression Essay

1215 words - 5 pages

The Implications of Self-expression "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin begins with 28 year old Edna Pontellier summering with her husband and their twin sons on Grand Isle. It is there on the island where she begins to change from an abnegated wife and mother to an independent and self-involved woman. This begins her journey into awareness, which sadly leads to her death. In this Strum und Drang novella, Chopin tells of the solitude and loneliness found through independence and self-expression. The author relies heavily on imagery throughout the story, surrounding the heroine with symbolic characters. Marriage and independence, freedom and restraint: these are themes realized in the story. The expectations of tradition coupled with the limitations of law allowed women of the late 1800s very few opportunities for individual expression, not to mention independence. Mr. Pontellier was no different in his expectations of Edna; his demands often derived from what society expected. His disappointment in his wife stemmed from her inability to become a "mother-women" described in the story as ""¦women who idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels" (613).Expected to perform their domestic duties and care for the health and happiness of their families, Victorian women were prevented from seeking the satisfaction of their own wants and needs. It should be pointed out that Edna does not face any explicit oppression. She is merely expected to run the house, care for the children, and do her best to please her husband. Nevertheless, she finds the role unbearable. But during her gradual awakening, Edna discovers herself and finds that she can not give her life, her identity, to others. Edna's awakening isolates her from others and ultimately leads her to a state of total solitude. Realizing that she has learned to swim then swimming to far and almost unable to make it back she discovers her own strength. In Edna's rekindled passion for painting she is reminded of the pleasure of individual creation. Yet, when Edna begins to express her feelings of independence, she quickly meets resistance from the constraints of society.Her first act of rebellion occurs after she returns from her catalytic swim in the ocean, when she is lying in the porch hammock, refusing her husband's entreaties to come inside to bed. "She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted" (631). And, when she makes the decision to leave her former lifestyle, Edna learns that independent ideas cannot always translate into a simultaneously self-sufficient and society acceptable existence. Another compelling point to this theme is the finality in Robert's decision not to trespass over the boundaries of societal convention and take what little...

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