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"The Awakening" By Kate Chopin Essay

1060 words - 5 pages

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin used the sea as a symbol to show how Edna awakened to her independence, her sexual desires and her place in society. The book took place in the late 1800s on Grand Isle in Louisiana. The main character Edna Pontellier, who was not a Creole, was married to Leonce Pontellier, who was a Creole. Leonce was self-centered and did not care about anybody but himself. He saw Edna as his possession because in Creole society men were dominant. Seldom did the Creoles accept outsiders into their social circle and women were expected to provide well-kept homes and have many children. Edna did not feel that she fit into the Creole society and finally awoke to many feelings ...view middle of the document...

I am not going to be forced into doing anything. I don't want to go abroad. I want to be let alone. Nobody has any right-except perhaps-and even then, it seems to me-or it did seem" (184). This quote indicates that Edna no longer wants to be told what to do. The pigeon house helped her come to this conclusion because there she was free to do as she pleased. While Edna gained independence from the sea she also gained her sexual desire.Edna's awakening to her sexual desire evolved after the first time she swam in the sea. Edna did not see herself as an individual with desires and opinions of her own while being with Leonce. He did not regard Edna as a partner in marriage, but rather as a possession. At the same time, he thought of Edna as the "sole object of his existence." Edna did not want to be seen this way because she did not want to be a possession. She had no feelings for him; "her marriage to Leonce was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate" (32). Throughout the six years of marriage to Leonce there was passion burning inside of Edna that could not be expressed. When Alcee Arobin came along while Robert was gone in Mexico, Edna felt the passion that had been burning inside. As Alcee kissed Edna it awakened her "sensuous sensibilities" and she could not resist but to kiss him back. She cried after Alcee left because she experienced conflicting emotions. She did not feel ashamed or remorseful but she regretted that the kiss was not motivated by love. Edna then goes further with Alcee because "he did not answer, except to continue to caress her. He did not say good night until she had become supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties"...

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