13 January 2014
Prompt: Morally ambiguous characters—characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good—are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.
The Awakening: Moral Ambiguity
In The Awakening, Edna finds herself unhappy living in a patriarchal society, and gives up her family and life to be content with herself. Her moral ambiguity can be compared to that of many women who sparked the early days of the women’s suffrage movement. Edna “[is] found of her children in an uneven, impulsive way” (Chopin 19), and often times gets bored or annoyed with the motherly duties that come with them if it is not convenient. She sees the children as more of a hassle than a blessing like many mothers would think of their child. Edna “would give up the unessential; [she] would give [her] money, [she] would give [her] life for my children; but [she] wouldn't give [her]self.” (Chopin 51) Edna understands the responsibility that she volunteered for when she had children, but has is internally conflicted as to how much energy she can put into them while still being able to think of herself. The children do not get to be with their mother for last few months of her life, spending the rest of the summer at their grandparent’s. “She was seeking herself”(Chopin 55) and couldn’t have any other person in the way of the mission she convinced herself she had to achieve. The innocent children lose their mother long before she commits suicide, something that even in today’s society children should never have to experience. Edna struggles with what the Creole society expects of her motherly duties, sparking the...
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