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The Awakening

The Awakening


by Kate Chopin

Edna Pontellier

Character Analysis

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Edna has her hands full looking for love and romance. She’s got a husband and two lovers. This seems excessive, and even more shocking considering that Edna used to be very sexually repressed, prim, and proper. So what happened? She gets exposed to a bunch of free-thinking Creoles. By the end of the book, Edna is an independent woman determined to go it alone. She even rejects the idea of marrying the man she loves because she now finds the institution of marriage much too constricting.

Does this make Edna a bad wife? Yes. A bad mother? You could make that argument. But these considerations ignore the deeper message that Chopin tries to convey, namely, the humanistic element of Edna’s awakening. Edna is trying to become a human being the best way she knows how. To be a good person in Edna’s society meant being a "mother-woman" who completely surrenders her sense of self in favor of husband and children. Edna refuses to take that road. Instead, she seeks her humanity. So why did she commit suicide? Did she commit suicide?

Edna Pontellier Timeline