How To Characterize Edna Pontellier's The Awakening

Improved Essays
In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier experiences a revelation about the lack of freedom she experiences as a woman in the 1890’s. The book covers her progression of thought and her transformation from repressed but yearning for freedom to her attempts at full freedom from society’s dictations, building up to her suicide. Chopin fills the book with underlying motifs that symbolize Edna’s gradual change, one of these being clothing. Edna’s awakening mirrors an alteration in attire as she shifts from traditional fashion to a less feminine style. The characters in The Awakening are dressed to mirror their level of independence, two being: Madame Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. The woman are opposites of each other, Ratignolle is the epitome of a perfect woman while Reisz is an independent artist. Their clothing reflects this as Madame Ratignolle wore “a gauze veil about …show more content…
She is stuck between being a perfect woman or having the freedom Mademoiselle Reisz has. Edna commits suicide to avoid choosing a side. Before her death, “for the first time in her life she stood naked in the open air” (115). Edna’s rejection of clothing mirrors her refusal to pick between the two choices she has - ideal housewife or free artist. Instead of choosing, she gets rid of the problem completely by stripping naked and killing herself. In Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier’s attire mirror her revelation. Her progressing thought shows through her changing style as she shifts from traditional fashion to bold freedom. Her two choices for life - being a pure wife or an independent woman - are also show through Madame Ratignolle’s and Mademoiselle Reisz’s clothing - plain white and unstylish black. Edna’s inability to decide between the two lifestyles ultimately leads to her rejecting clothing altogether and committing

Related Documents

  • Great Essays

    The only way these female protagonists can achieve this, is to find a drastic mean. In “The Awakening” even when Edna Pontellier left Mr. Pontellier and moved out she still didn’t feel satisfied. She felt her only way to escape was to commit suicide. Chopin states this scene by saying “The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles. She walked out.…

    • 1776 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    To understand someone, look at the way they deal with obstacles in their life. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, is a kunsterroman novel about a woman named Edna Pointellier that lives in New Orleans in that late 1800s who has an internal struggle because she does not agree with society. Something that could be learned from this novel is to not conform to society if it makes oneself unhappy. Edna’s internal struggle is exploited through her relationship with her family, friends, and her choice of committing suicide. Some people argue that family should be the most important thing in life, but in Edna’s they only push her to become more unhappy.…

    • 628 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The Awakening Final Essay The novel titled The Awakening tells the story of a woman struggling to find herself during a time where society placed restrictions on women’s freedom of expression. The novel, written by Kate Chopin, takes place in the nineteenth century. The main character, Edna Pontellier, is a mother and a wife who is not content with the life she lives. Throughout the novel Edna goes through different stages and deals with many different people that contribute to her “awakening”. Edna struggles to find her purpose in this society that is holding her back.…

    • 1021 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    No women kill themselves because of shame but Antonia dies for the same reasons Sophonisba. In addition, Sophonisba decided to kill herself because her husband says so. When realizing that her husband could not protect her, despite…

    • 794 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Antigone: A Tragic Hero

    • 634 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Her hamartia is her will to commit suicide. She gave up as soon as Creon left her to die in the cave. As soon as she faced a death that seemed impossible to avoid, she let go of her life. If she would have waited just a little longer, she would have been released by the very man who detained her. By staying alive, she would have also saved her fiance, Haemon.…

    • 634 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    So, “she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up” (349). She finally gave into society and allowed all the societal negatively that was surrounding her life to take over her, so she performed the act that they wanted of her. That act was to get rid of her flaws, and conform to the societal “norm”. After she changed herself to be the image that everyone wanted her to be, she was viewed differently. Everyone complimented her, “doesn’t she look pretty?…

    • 1308 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    The dress covers the Countess completely. The Countess here chooses to hide her body, signifying that exposure of the body would denote sin. In opposition, Zola writes, Renee is ashamed of wearing white, she wishes that she wore black lace. Her father specifically points to the white of her dress and declares it…

    • 1751 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Following the miscommunication of the DNR that is called on Vivian, Susie yells for everyone to get out of the room and we see “The instant she is naked, and beautiful, reaching for the light-Lights out. )” (Edson 85). The light symbolizes the life that is being taken away as she reaches rebirth through death. She voluntarily reaches for the light in acceptance in order to experience the rebirth she has been longing for. In opposition, the protagonists rebirthing is through a gain of control despite her mental illness.…

    • 1566 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The writer didn’t see any point of living so she decided to kill herself in which she succeeded in. The short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is about the writers own experience…

    • 1515 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In this story, a confident woman named Edna steps out of the boundaries to begin a moral revolution. She expresses the desire of wanting “liberation, but also love and appreciation” (Chopin 71). This desire relates to Kate Chopin’s personal beliefs of gender equality, partaking in the feminist movement of the late 1800’s. Like Edna, Kate Chopin faced the plight of a woman’s role in society. Women could not live a free lifestyle…

    • 734 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays