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the awakening


            Although the ending of Kate Chopin's The Awakening is a sad conclusion to an inspirational story, sadness and despair are not the central themes of the novel. The novel's ending should not be construed as Edna's failure to continue her pursuit of individualism and independence, rather one could see it as society's failure to accept or even tolerate Edna's newly awakened self. Edna finds it impossible to reconcile her desire for self-determination with the world she lives in. However, her attempts to gain independence are influenced by thinking that is often flawed or contradictory. She puts herself in situations that bound to fail: her loveless marriage and attraction to unobtainable men are just two examples. Although Edna was outwardly performing the duties of her life, her heart was busy thinking other thoughts and unwilling to relinquish her identity and unable to find a suitable compromise, suicide unfortunately presents itself as Edna's ultimate means of seizing control of her life and relinquishing her familial responsibilities. Edna eventually becomes dissatisfied with her marriage, because Leonce wants her to submit completely to his authority and conform to the Victorian ideals of a wife and mother. During a vacation on the Grand Isle, Edna befriends two women, Adele Ratignolle, a pianist, and Mademoiselle Reisz, a childless spinster, who aids Edna Pontellier's "awakening-. The insights imparted by these women introduce Edna to new ideas, influence her perceptions of womanhood, and in essence, starts the "awakening- process that led Edna not only to listen to her own voices but also the voices of the ocean. .
             Edna did not marry the man she was in love with, because her father and sister opposed the union on religious grounds, "Add to this the violent opposition of her father and her sister Margaret to her marriage with a Catholic, and we seek no further for the motives which led her to accept Monsieur Pontellier for her husband- (18).


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