The Rise and Fall of Edna Pontellier

Topics: Webster's Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, The Downward Spiral Pages: 4 (1308 words) Published: October 16, 2008
The Rise and Fall of Edna Pontellier
To the unknowing, all seemed well for the Pontellier family. Léonce and Edna Pontellier appeared to be a picture perfect family with two young boys spending the summer at the Grand Isle, an island near New Orleans. Mr. Pontellier was a successful business man who lavished the children and his wife with expensive gifts. Mrs. Pontellier could have been the ideal mother who tended to the children and the appreciative wife who adored her husband. Instead of those things, Edna was secretly unhappy on the inside, wanting more than what she knew. Towards the end of her time, she could not help to show how miserable she truly was. Edna had all the material things she desired, however, it was not enough to save herself from her depression of wanting what money could not buy.

Mr. Pontellier was “a great favorite ...” and “the ladies all declared that he was the best husband in the world.” (Chopin 8,9). Edna Pontellier was the “wife of a man who worshiped her.” (Chopin 19). Edna’s husband seemed to give her all of himself and what he had to offer. The Pontelliers’ were well known in the social realm and money was not an object for them. Money and social status did not satisfy what Edna Pontellier craved.

Edna’s first signs of depression were shown when her husband, Léonce, returned late one night from Klein’s, a popular hotel in the area. Mr. Pontellier discovered one of their young boys had a fever and he “reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children.” (Chopin 7). Edna knew the children had went to bed feeling fine, but kept silent. She had “tears come so fast...the damp sleeve of her peignoir no longer served to dry them.” (Chopin 7). Even though this minute altercation could almost seem unimportant, it was the starting point for Edna’s own “awakening.” Edna felt trapped and suppressed in her role as a mother and wife to a Creole husband. During the summer at Grand Isle, she befriended a...

Cited: Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 2nd ed. Ed. Margo Culley. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 1994.
Forman, Gayle. ”The Tragic Mystery of Suicide.” Cosmopolitan 244.5 (May 2008): 176 Research Library. GALILEO. (10 September 2008).
Harmon, Charles. “Abysses of Solitude: Acting Normally in Vogue and ‘The Awakening’.” College Literature 25.3 (Fall98): 52.
Merriam Webster’s. Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Fourth Ed. Wiley Publishing Inc. Cleveland OH: 2008.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression.” (2 September 2008).
Ryan, Steven T. “Depression and Chopin’s The Awakening.” Mississippi Quarterly 51.2 (Spring98): 253 Academic Search Complete. GALILEO. (5 September 2008).
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