Psychological Discoveries in "The Awakening"

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In a novel or play, some of the most significant events are mental or psychological. These events may lead to awakenings, discoveries, or changes in consciousness. In Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, she explores the internal events in Edna Pontellier’s life to give the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action.

Chopin reveals the excitement through Edna’s affairs. Edna and Robert fall in love, which goes against her marriage with Léonce. Not only is it going against her marriage, it also goes against the principles of women, especially during this time period. At first the meetings with Robert are subtle and not as important, but when Edna starts to spend time with Alcée Arobin, she digs herself into deeper trouble. Edna troubles herself by being with Arobin, but she continually keeps her consciousness and does not fall into the trap of being controlled by a man.

Although there is excitement, Edna also goes through suspenseful events. Chopin reveals the suspense through Edna’s conversations and interactions with her husband. One of the events revealing suspense is when Edna moves out of the house without her husband’s permission. This action makes a big impact on their marriage. This is also because she receives Alcée at this location. Chopin creates the tension between the husband and wife which is unexpected in this time period. Edna has her own frame of mind when she acts on this. It is a psychological conflict because she knows her husband does not approve of her behavior.

Furthermore, Chopin reveals the climax through the symbolism of the ocean. The ocean foreshadows the resulting death of Edna Pontellier. Edna believes her life is over when Robert and she cannot be together any longer. She does not desire to be with her husband or Arobin either. As a symbol of cleansing and freedom, the ocean portrays the events leading to her suicide. Without the ocean and the lack of being able to swim well, Edna would...
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