Kate Chopin - the Awakening

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Léonce as the prime Trigger in the Case of Edna Pontellier´s Personal Awakening

In “The Awakening”, written by Kate Chopin, Edna Pontellier is the main character, who undergoes an awakening from a dependent woman living to the standards of the society to an independent self-aware individual. Through the regular absence of her husband Léonce Pontellier, Edna cannot speak with him about her thoughts, fears and important scenes in her life. Therefore she remotes herself mentally and even physically from him. But in how far is Leoncé the prime trigger for Edna´s Awakening, how did her Awakening happen exactly and is the suicide consequent in her development ?

At the beginning of the novel, Chopin´s main character Edna Pontellier lives the life of a typical woman in the 19th century. Society and her successful husband Léonce demand of her to be a caring mother, representative wife and hard-working housewife. But in fact, she is “not a mother-woman” (Chopin 9), because “she would give up the unessential, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children” (Chopin 108). She tries hard to fulfil her duties and to esteem her husband, but his frequent absence because of his business ruins the marriage, which “was purely an accident” (Chopin 18) anyway.

As the Pontelliers´ went to Grand Isle for holidays, Edna is left alone once again by her husband, because he is doing his own business. In this time she approaches to the Creole women, “which impressed Mrs. Pontellier most forcibly was their entire absence of prudery. Their freedom of expression was at first incomprehensible to her, though she had no difficulty in reconciling it with a lofty chastity which in the Creole woman seems to be inborn and unmistakable" (Chopin 10).

Her new friends lead her to desire something different, because they represent the life she longs for. "An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her...
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