After reading “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, I had mixed emotions about how the story ended. The protagonist Edna, starts off by being happily married to her husband Leonce, with her 2 children. She is unaware of what she truly wants. As the story progresses, Edna starts to value her ambitions and independence rather than being a “good wife” Edna feels suffocated in her marriage and prioritises painting, and spends time with other men instead of doing what she is expected to do as a “good mother and wife” I think there were a lot of women in the 1800s who felt the same way Edna did, but was too afraid to verbalise their opinions or take action as going against the strict gender norms would catch others attention and harsh judgement. I think valuing your own wishes can be a positive thing to an extent. However, I think Edna took it too far to the point where her actions were not justifiable. For example, paying little attention to her children and eventually leaving her children without a mother.
I think Mr Pontellier, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Ratignolle were great additions to the story. It helped portrait the ideal husband and wife in the 1800s and what was out of the ordinary. Madame Ratignolle advises Edna to “think about her children” when she suspects Edna for having an affair with Alcee. Mr. Pontellier reminded me of Higgins from Pygmalion. They were both portrayed as the typical materialistic husbands in the 1800/early 1900s who failed to give their wives what they truly wanted. Mr. Pontellier’s focus on business blinds him from the self realisation and emotional growth Edna is going through. This results in not noticing that Edna has left him when she rents her own house.Mademoiselle Reisz, an independent self-sufficient woman, serves as a major inspiration throughout Edna’s awakening. Edna is drawn and inspired by Mademoiselle Reisz’s piano performance and her love and passion for music.
The ending was not what I expected. Edna abandons her children, Leonce and ignores the advice Madame Ratignolle gives, “ think about the children” and sets herself free by going for a swim. Chopin does not make the ending clear, it is left for the readers to interpret how Edna dies. I think If she continued to live as an independent rebellious woman, Edna could have become a self-reliant woman like Mademoiselle Reisz and grow to be an extraordinary example for her children especially in the 1800s when there were strict gender norms that were to be followed.