A read through the book by Kate Chopin, The Awakening, leaves one with many questions, especially when they are through to the 7th chapter. The story of Edna Pontellier is the one which is problematic, as one follows the character from the beginning of the story to the end. The various transformation of the character Edna is what is sure to leave many questions in the head of a reader. One might be sure to ask as well as ponder whether this is another feminist novel or whether Edna is mad, or it is, in fact, the author, Chopin who is mad. However, one thing that is sure to stand out in the novel is the rebellious nature of Edna. However, the question of whether her rebellion can be termed to be realistic is one of the factors that many critics of the novel try to argue. In this paper, the uprising of Edna will be discussed as well as the causes for the rebellious nature.
When a reader first comes across with Edna, she appears to be a muted woman, one who is entirely unable to articulate herself and very much unable to tell a story from her point of view (Urgo 23). However, as one progresses through the novel, Edna gets more courageous and even learns to say no, she slowly turns into a woman who is capable of rebelling as her character begins to take into shape. From the novel, it can be said that awakens Edna as well as her sensuality, is mainly the art of speaking out as well as her being able to make her desires, as well as her emotions, be understood in a narrative form. The awakening is mainly a story about Edna being unable to speak and as such, not being able to make her story being heard. The central tragedy to Edna in The Awakening is that comes to later find out that the story which she is telling is mainly unacceptable in her culture, such demands that if she wants to live in their current society, she will have to silence herself, and ignore the others. However, Edna comes to reject this truth. Such is what brings out her rebellious quality at first. The readers are introduced to the fact that Edna is now willing to extinguish her own life than editing her form of the story. However, such raises a very crucial component in her rebellious nature; she even comes to the point of accepting and reaching for a compromise with death rather than being silent, which seems a very suitable bargain when compared to death.
It should be noted that from the start of the novel, Edna is always going through a rough patch when trying to express her emotions as well as experiences in the form of a narrative. A perfect example is when Edna and Robert try to come up with a relation to the ?adventure’by Leonce, which they have had out in the water, but they fail. Edna says,It didn’t seem half so amusing when told (Chopin 173). Furthermore, one of the most discouraging factors that had been attributed to be causing the turbulence in the Pontellier marriage is the fact that, in the eyes of Leonce, Edna was failing to talk as well as converse with him (Chopin 177). However, the catch is that Edna can’t appreciate such type of conversation because the first time the readers are introduced to her, we find her to be mute. All these time, Edna can be said to be quiet, especially for the first six chapters of the novel.
Edna’s attempt to express herself always runs her into problems; all these can be seen at the first effort to make her thoughts be heard. All this was seen when Edna decided to take anatural aptitude test to undertake to do a painting for Madame Ratignolle. However, when the picture was done, Ratignolle was greatly disappointed as the woman in the picture bore no similarities to her at all. However, Edna interrupts this statement. She says thatIt was a fair enough piece f work, and is satisfying in many ways (Chopin 187). As demonstrated, this indeed becomes the first instance of Edna, having a chance to have her interpretation and thoughts be heard. She refuses to get what she sees as being good, being termed as unrealistic by the other. Such shows that whatever Edna sees in her own eyes, it is not the same that is recognized by her compatriots, such explains one of the causes of her rebellious nature. She is mainly rebellious because she does not conform to the standards as well as patterns of her compatriots. However, Edna destroys the picture despite some consolation from Robert.
No sooner had she made the unsettling picture of the Madame Ratignolle than Edna is hit by the many series of her forms of awakenings. With this, the realization the relations that surround her are progressively made more prominent (Chopin 191). The incidence of the painting with Madame Ratignolle teaches her a lot. She learns that even though her visions and way of seeing things are different from the others, it is paramount that she learns to express them. And this serves the second reason for her rebellion, to make herself understood as well as bring out her voice. However, as Chopin explains, the beginnings brought about by such types of awakening are vague, and as a result, Edna still had a very long way in a bid to make her voice be heard.
However, it is chapter 7 that reveals much about the history that Edna has concerning her rebellious nature. The section explains the kind in which she would run out of the fields in the sole bid to escape the prayer services that she saw as being gloomy. The chapter also shows why she ended up marrying Leonce as her family had the violent opposition to her marrying a Catholic man. It is evident that she led a dual life all her life as her outward appearance mainly seemed to conform to what the society expects of her while the internal part of her always appear to be questioning the actions she undertakes.
Before the life that Edna leads while in marriage, she had experienced various sexual, obsessions as we passionate encounters with some men that he could not have lasting relationships with them. She was always fixated on a writer who was dead as well as having the constant amount of persistence of the infatuation to these other men. Such made it seem like it was genuine love. However, such kind of perception, especially to a dead man, was in a way a perfect portrayal of the weakness that Edna suffered the pain as well of having an unfulfilled love. All these were some of the reasons that aggravated her need to express herself to the world.
The story that needs to be told by Edna, as seen, is the story of the awakening that is seen in her body. Such is described by the author asthe animalism that has forever stirred impatiently within her (Chopin 293). Her body has been the one that has suffered more from the silence as it had never found a perfect place to express her desires openly. It is this, however, that he must rebel against, in a bid to set her body and soul free. She must be able to tell her story and be able to explain or narrate her desires to the people, who might sometimes take advantages of her silent and muted nature (McConnell 44). The incident that happens at the Grand Isle, very early in the novel, represents a foreshadowing of the move that will be taken by Edna. That when moving from the appreciation of the passive consumption and appreciation of the arts, towards the side in which it demands active participation, towards the authority as well as the expression of oneself. Such typically represents a move from the viewpoint that the art is taken as being ornamental or just being social to the people of the society.
Urgo, Joseph R.A Prologue to Rebellion: The Awakening’and the Habit of Self-Expression. The Southern Literary Journal, vol. 20, no. 1, 1987, pp. 22“32. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20077844.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017. Print.
McConnell, Mikaela. “”A Lost Sense of Self by Ignoring Other in The Awakening By Kate Chopin.”” The Explicator 72.1 (2014): 41-44. Web.
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