Edna Essay

1507 words - 7 pages

In Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”, longing for passion and freedom Edna Pontellier leaves the safety of her gilded cage, only to find that death is her only salvation. In the 1800’s the main role in society for a female was to be a wife and mother, women at this time were the property of their husbands and had little say in anything. Which for Edna was the opposite of what she wanted, she wanted to be free from these responsibilities and to live her own life. Although Edna is not a victim in the role society has chosen for her, she freely walked into her gilded cage and into the role of wife to Leonce Pontellier and mother to their children. The longer she stayed in her marriage, the more she realizes that the passion she needed was not there with her husband, nor was the motherly affection she should have felt for her children. Lost in mixed emotion and longing to be free, Edna’s actions not only affect her husband life but also the future of her children. Even though Edna is selfish, in the end she realizes everything she has done will harm her two boys. She is not strong enough to be free without the love of Robert Lebrun and in the end decides she will not go back to the gilded cage of the life she led before. In the thoughts of her children and the life she is not strong enough to keep, she returns to the sea. The one place she can be truly free from everything that is holding her back.
In the 1800’s the husband controlled everything in the family and the wife was just another possession. The wife’s main duties were to care for the children, husband, house and any social obligations that the husband required of her. Leonce Pontellier embraces this view and many times throughout the story shows how much Edna is his possession. Although Edna lives a luxurious life, she feels imprisoned in the wants and desires of her husband. All Edna’s material possessions Leonce gives her freely, but the two things she desires the most are out of her reach. Leonce want a wife and mother like Adele Ratignolle and even comments several times about Edna’s lack of being a wife and mother, “He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of his existence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him, and valued so little his conversation.”(1) In addition to her lack of attention to her husband, Edna also becomes impassive towards her children, which Leonce notices and it troubles him greatly, “He approached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother’s place to look after the children, whose on earth was it?” (2) Furthermore, in future speculations Leonce even notices that his wife is very different from the other wives and mothers on Grand Isle, “In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman. The mother-women seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them. Fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary,...

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