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Edna's Infatuation In The Awakening Essay

1864 words - 8 pages

What is the difference between infatuation and love? This has been a topic of conversation for years, and yet we still have never figured out the exact answer to the question. By Webster’s Online Dictionary the definition of love is “affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests”(Webster’s). This is precisely how Edna Pontellier believes she feels about Robert Lebrun in “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin. Although on the contrary the definition of infatuation is “to cause to be foolish : deprive of sound judgment”(Webster’s), and this is more so the truth for Edna. Her need for freedom is so strong that she finds herself turning to other men just to satisfy that need. Her ...view middle of the document...

It would have been unacceptable and annoying”(541). While still completely sane, she admits that her feelings for Robert are nothing more than a friendship but changes her mind once she decides she no longer wants to be tied down to anyone. She becomes extremely flustered when she finds out about Robert leaving for Mexico she states “The idea of Robert starting of in such a ridiculously sudden and dramatic way!”(568). This is where “she recognized anew the symptoms of infatuation”(569), basically admitting that she had no serious thoughts about him, just an infatuation which she blows way out of proportion while he is away, so much so as to think she is actually in love with him when he returns. Possibly though, a big reason as to why she begins to feel that way is because she envies his ability to just pack up and leave on a moment’s notice. She already has begun to long for a change in her life, and something like that would not only be adventurous to her, but also fulfill her longing for something different than the life she is stuck in. She tells a story to her husband and the Doctor while dining one night “of a woman who paddled away with her lover one night in a pirogue and never came back”(589), how so then, would this be any different. She only wants something new, and doesn’t care how she accomplishes her mission. This is precisely why she was never in love with Robert, she was using his friendship as a crutch to accomplish her mission for independence.
Secondly, her love affair with Alcee Arobin is completely incongruent with these feelings Edna professes to have for Robert. Yes, he leaves for Mexico, and she does not know if he will ever return, but her actions with him are completely unacceptable as she is still married and swear she is in love with Robert. Right away she craves for the attention of Arobin “regret[ing] that she had not made Arobin stay a half hour to talk over the horses with her”(593), and this is only the first night that she has met him. She gets mixed up with all of these men and does not know how to handle any of them, as she is still somewhat naïve from the way she was brought up. She likes the attention she receives from these suitors and does not know how to handle herself around them, quickly Arobin’s “presence, his manners, the warmth of his glances, and above all the touch of his lips upon her hand had acted like a narcotic upon her”(595). She falls into his trap way quicker than she ever did for Robert, which is quite surprising, when Robert is the man she is so deeply in love with according to her. Robert Lee Mahon speaks of “not only her poor taste in men (three of them again), but her absolute inability to free herself from any of them”(Mahon). She is so focused on changing her life that these men rope her in and she falls for all of their plans. She knows that Arobin is not a good man to be spending time with, but her love for the idea of her freedom and being able to do what she...

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