In Kate Chopin’s day, ideas about the human psyche (including the subconscious) were just beginning to gain momentum. Regardless of whether Chopin was intentionally integrating these concepts into The Awakening, issues of the subconscious are definitely present in the novel as we see Edna come to terms with deeper layers of her identity. We see her acting on impulses she doesn’t understand and feeling depressed when she denies these impulses. Moreover, we can also see Edna’s "awakening" as the awakening of her true inner self that has been operating below the level of her conscious mind.
Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence
- We found this quote from Chapter Twelve a little scary: "She was blindly following whatever impulse moved her, as if she had placed herself in alien hands for direction, and freed her soul of responsibility." Is this Divine Providence directing her actions? How did her soul suddenly get freed of responsibility?
- To what extent does Edna’s newly independent identity feel like a dream that comes crashing to a halt once she returns to Grand Isle?
Chew on This
Once Edna makes a conscious decision to be guided by her subconscious, she finds greater fulfillment as a human being.