The Awakening Imagine being expected to be fully obedient to your husband and be more of a piece of property than a human being; you cannot make your own decisions or act without another one’s consent. This is what life was like for the women of 1899. Edna Pontellier is a married woman in
New Orleans and is used to the custom of being completely and utterly subordinate to her husband. This all changes after her emotions start to take over.
The Awakening is used by Kate
Chopin as a method of demonstrating the ongoing conflict of women against the world and what the world thinks of them.
Kate Chopin takes the viewpoint of many different women to present the entirety of the situation of a woman’s role in society during that time. Although many opinions differ from others, the general consensus is that women of the time were firmly mistreated and looked at as an object, not as a person. An example of this is spoken by Léonce Pontellier, Edna’s husband,
You are burnt beyond recognition," he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.” (A,12) This quote shows how he thinks of her as a piece of property and is treating her as such. Another example is found when
Léonce talks to the doctor about Edna’s condition. He regards her like she is a piece of equipment that has stopped working and was asking for the means to repair it. Throughout
Edna’s journey and her awakening, she goes through many periods of being looked at as not only an inferior person, but as a nonhuman.
One main character trait of Edna is how she isn’t afraid to confront her problems and deal with them. She addresses her situation with a firm voice and doesn’t back down due to the constant waves of oppression that shake her. One of Edna's most confronting moments came
when she was talking to Robert about their future. She said, "
I am no longer one of Mr.
Pontellier's possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say,
'Here Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,' I should laugh at you both.”(TA,150)
. Her ongoing conflicts with herself and others was an extremely large part of the book. One of the biggest conflicts was how she addresses the situation of moving out and into the pigeon house.
Edna knew that she had to confront Léonce at some point. She started with subtle verbal cues but eventually decided to move out and live by herself. She confronted feminism, and Léonce, by sending him a letter and getting up and doing what she set out to do. Edna Pontellier wasn't only