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Edna Pontellier's Private Passions Conflict with her Responsibilities

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The Awakening Year 1980 Essay The passionate convictions, set forth by each individual, albeit daily, semi annually, or throughout a lifetime, are the driving forces of world progress. In attaining these advancements, responsibilities and socially accepted paradigms sometimes must be set aside. One such plight is that of Edna Pontellier, protagonist of Chopin's The Awakening, whose struggle with an "outward life which conforms [and an] inward life which questions" causes her to reject that which is morally acceptable. It is through this conflict between private passions and responsibilities that Edna discovers her identity and realizes her emotional desires. Edna faces a conflict between that which society deems as socially improper and her will to do as she pleases. ...read more.


The fantasy he expounds of her becoming his wife once set free by her husband, shows that he too, as L´┐Żonce did before him, believes in husbandly ownership of his wife. She reaffirms her dissatisfaction when she says, "I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier's possessions to dispose of or not. If he were to say, 'Here Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,' I should laugh at both of you." However, Robert, the one to initiate Edna's awakening, refuses to trample over the boundaries of societal morals and the sanctity of marriage by remaining in a love affair. Thus, he forces himself to reject her, which leaves Edna utterly alone with thoughts of despondency. ...read more.


Ultimately, Edna's trepidation over her sons' vulnerability and weaknesses, which lead them to rely on her for happiness and social acceptance, thrust her into giving her own life, as she promised, but not "herself" for her children. The passions of Edna Pontellier's life undermine all that society regards as morally sensible. Her slave-like union to her family, in her eyes, prevents her from living the "far richer" and more satisfying existence that she desperately desires. The awakening Edna experiences through her infidelities and love for Robert both facilitates her unwavering want of independence and the ever-increasing sensation of solitude. Ultimately, as if to escape the insurmountable ties and rejections she faces, Edna gives her life for the well-being of her children but is able to withhold "herself." ...read more.

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