The story commences with Edna Pontellior, her husband and family, spending their summer holidays on Grand Isle. Ratignolle who was presently pregnant that time and her family, was also there for vacation. Reisz, a great pianist, was also there for the holiday. Her playing of the piano awakens Edna’s concealed desires and passion. We are also introduced to Robert Lebrun who courts women in the summer season, in particular married women. Edna caught his picture. Robert persuades Edna to be true to herself by articulating her own needs and desires.
They fell in love with each other and since she’s married this pointed him to detach himself from her and to look for his destiny in Mexico. Upset, Edna chose to put her desires before her family. In the course of realizing her true character, she paints and sketches and deserts her obligation as a wife and mother. She continued to be good friends with Reisz and Ratignolle. She has an affair with Alcee Robin, a womanizer, but is still feel warmth for Robert. She left her house and rents a tiny house that looks like a pigeon’s house. The leasing of the house was compensated by the little income she produces by selling her paintings.
When Robert came back, Edna struggle to revive her relationship with him by telling him that she is an independent woman and not concerned with social mores. She plans to leave Leonce. When she went to Ratignolle’s delivery, Edna was told to reassess her decision as it will damage her two sons. She drowns herself after she found out Robert’s goodbye note that tells of his love for her and after realizing that she cannot go on with her life with Leonce. And being a divorcee in this society was unthinkable. Purpose: The purpose of the novel is to show how women are treated and to show how valuable a woman’s feelings are.
It gives us a view of the demands of society and the needs of individuals. Women should be treated fairly and that they should be given the respect they deserve. It not about how you should live in the eyes of others, but how you live your life the way you want to and you know how much you deserve that kind of life. Main Characters: Mrs. Edna Pontellier is the main character in the book that awakens to a new life as she finds out her independence. She is the young wife of Leonce Pontellier and the mother of Raoul and Etienne. She falls in love with Robert Lebrun.
Edna is honest about her feelings for Robert and of her disappointment with Leonce and the tradition of marriage. This is revealed in her dismissal of social principle and traditions which she felt have caged her. During the rest of the novel, she lives in New Orleans, wasted her time with Reisz, had an affair with Alcee Arobin, moves into her own small house, deserts her old life, and affirms her love for Robert. Mr. Leonce Pontellier is Edna’s wealthy, traditional husband. Although he rarely shows his love through material things, he often shows his disappointment through rage. He perceives Edna to be reckless, and seek for help from Dr.
Mandelet as to her moody temperament. “It would have been a difficult matter for Mr. Pontellier to identify to his own satisfaction or any one else’s wherein his wife failed in her duty towards their children. It was something which he felt rather than perceived, and he never voiced the feeling without subsequent regret and ample atonement (8). ” He went to New York for a business trip as Edna moves out and falls in love with Robert Lebrun. Robert Lebrun is the younger, attractive, teasing man with whom Edna falls in love with. Robert is a clean-shaven young man with the stand for of a bohemian and doesn’t care about the world.
He smokes cigarettes because he can’t pay for cigars. He works in New Orleans as a clerk and visits his mother in Grand Isle. Even though he honestly loves Edna, he leaves her two times without following through on his feelings. “Robert spoke of his intention to go to Mexico in the autumn, where fortune awaited him (4). ” In the end, he left a note that said: “I love you. Goodbye, because I love you (132). ” Robert struggle to resist on his feelings for Edna because he knows it was not right to love a married woman. That’s why he left to Mexico. The insight of this caused Edna to drown herself.
Adele Ratignolle is the personification of perfect womanhood from this era, mother of five children, and idyllic wife to Alphonse Ratignolle. She becomes a close friend of Edna while at Grande Isle and watches out for her friend in the ways of love. She knows the power of her own femininity and cautions Robert not to play with the old fashioned sense of feminism that Edna has. She exemplifies everything about femininity and womanhood of the last century. She is faithful to her husband, gives birth every two years, and embellishes herself with sumptuous outfits and jewelry. She dependent on her family, and is remarkable for her beauty.
Mademoiselle Reisz is the unconventional single pianist who charms Edna with her Chopin Impromptu at Grande Isle. She is a close friend of Robert Lebrun, who writes to her asking for a performance of Chopin for Edna any time she desires. Reisz embodies everything that Ratignolle does not like being independent, carefree, a single life with no children, and a life overflowing with art. She brings out the subliminal feelings of Edna to Robert and to her independent spirit. She helps in Edna’s view of life and love changes. Alcee Arobin is the young, charismatic, scandalous man who seduces Edna into his arms.
He’s one of which Edna spends time with. He is a womanizer, gambler, and businessman. Raoul is one of Edna and Leonce Pontellier’s sons. He becomes slightly ill making Leonce to shout at Edna for being irresponsible. Etienne is the other son of Edna and Leonce Pontellier. The Colonel is Edna’s father who was an officer in the Confederacy in the Civil War. He like the parties, singing, dancing, and drinking at the Ratignolle parties and tries to influence Edna to come to his sister’s wedding. He questions why Edna and Leonce do not spend more time together at night. Madame Lebrun is Robert and Victor’s mother.
She manages the cottages in Grande Isle, and is friendly with Edna in New Orleans. Victor Lebrun is Robert’s younger brother and the fortune of Madame Lebrun. He flirts with Edna and frequently tells her how beautiful she is. He also went to Edna’s dinner and spends time with her in New Orleans. Conflict and Resolution: One of the conflicts in the novel is the married life and society’s prospect of men and women. It is a prejudice of gender roles in the society. Women did not have the freedom to do what they want because they are viewed as dependent to men and just to stay at home.
“The mother-women seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels. (8)” Leonce believes that Edna is not doing her womanly task and is an irresponsible mother. He believes women must be inclined to their children, household chores, and their husbands.
And when Edna starts to show signs of independence, he lost his temper and was filled with disappointment and resentment. It relates to the novel as Edna looks for a source of income and eventually sells her painting to earn an income. And because of that, the consequence of the things she did was imposed to her child. “He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of her children. If it were not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it? (6)” Edna realized that she can’t portrays the person the society wants her to be and resolves that problem by changing the way she lives her life.
Edna takes actions according to her own desire, with no consideration to Leonce. She goes out alone, visits friends by herself, and eventually annoys her husband. Leonce has trouble dealing with his wife’s new free character and thinks her to be mentally uneven. Edna believes that she can be an artist and a lover and be independent. It was evidently clear that women were seen as property of their husband. This is illustrated from Leonce Pontellier’s straightforward comments like “Looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of property which has suffered some damage (2).
” This was resolved when Edna left the house and when she eventually gave up and went to the ocean to drown than go back and enslave herself from the hands of her Leonce. Edna doesn’t want to depend on other people and doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. She just wanted her independence, to be what she wants to be in her own way, and to not to give up her life and soul for her children. She wants to live her life for herself and to her affair with Robert. Edna admits to never belong to anyone again which in turn, brings her ahead of her time and out of the typical female of her time.
Setting: The novel was set in 1899. This is the time when the Industrial Revolution and the feminist movement were starting to become known but were still outshine by the general attitudes of the 19th century. Grande Isle is the summer dwelling place for the Pontellier’s and Ratignolle’s. They reside at the Lebrun cottages during the summer months. Edna and Robert meet and spend their time together while on Grande Isle. The Lebrun family owns the cottages at Grande Isle where the beginning of the story takes place. Madame Lebrun manages them and befriends Edna Pontellier.
Next is at Klein’s, it’s the hotel close to Grande Isle where Leonce Pontellier use up much of his time and money. The Carondelet Street in New Orleans is where Leonce Pontellier does much of his big business and bump into Robert Lebrun for quite a few times. The pigeon-house is Edna’s new small home, where she has only one servant. This is where she paints, and finds freedom and independence. She sometimes visits her children at their grandmother’s and goes back home to her independent, single life. She likes having time to herself, and knowing on her own when and where she wants to see other people.
Edna and Robert rouse their relation by the ocean. Edna loves the water and learns how to swim, spending most of her time. Edna expresses her outlook of the beach, with the blue sky and ocean that makes her imagine of her youth. She talks of the view as a painter longing for a canvas to create an art. She then meets her end, while drifting deep into the ocean. Language Devices: The novel was full of symbolism where in each narrative section, there is a central and dominant symbol that adds meaning to the content and to emphasize some delicate point the author made. First symbol is the Art because it is a symbol of freedom and failure.
It is through the progression of trying to be an artist that Edna achieved the utmost point of her awakening. She perceives art as a way of self-expression and of self-assertion. When Edna arrives, Adele Ratignolle is folding laundry. She abandons it to entertain her dear friend. Edna shows Adele her paintings and desires to paint Adele. She values her opinion greatly and hopes for positive feedback on her work. She humbly revels in Adele’s overt appreciation of her painting. She gives her several as gifts, greets Monsieur Ratignolle and leaves, contemplating her life and her feelings for her friend. Birds are the major symbolic images.
They symbolize the means to communicate and entrapment of women like the two birds in the cages. Flight is another symbol linked with birds because it acts as a place for awakening. The capability to spread your wings and fly is a symbolic theme that happens often in the novel like when Edna escapes from her home, her husband, her life and leaves for the pigeon house. Reisz address Edna for the need of having strong wings in artistic happenings “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth (96).
” Like these birds, Edna is ensnared by society’s expectations of women, since she is not suited for the role of a mother and domestic wife. As the parrot talks with a language which no one knows, Edna convey her inner desires to flee from society’s truss that stay silent and invisible to those around her. And like a newly emerged baby bird, she finds safety in the “pigeon house,” as she find out of her place in the world and fight against societal principle. In the last chapter of the story, Edna saw a “bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water (135).
” Like the bird, Edna’s wings are not strong and spirited enough to survive as a person fighting against society’s advocate to be traditional. Edna is fully dressed when first introduced in the novel. Slowly over the line of the novel, she removes her clothes. This symbolizes the peeling of the societal rules in her life and her increasing awakening and stresses her physical and external self. Edna’s dress counters the peripheral nature and it also opposes her inner nature. It signifies the partition between her and her surroundings and between her social character and her awakening nature.
When she commits suicide, she was naked. She drops everything she has in her quest. The moonlight symbolizes the fight Edna has with the perception of sexual love and romantic love. At the end of chapter ten, subtle images of “strips of moonlight (34)” are introduced with strong sexual feelings. It suggests that this combination characteristically expect the problems Edna will have shaping the connection between sex and romance. The ocean is a sign for freedom and escape. Edna remembers the Kentucky fields in her childhood as an ocean, she learns to swim in the bay, and she then flee into the sea.
The ocean is also a foundation of self-awareness, both an external knowledge of the growth of the universe and an inner obsession with self. The sound of the waves calls to her, console her throughout the novel, and proceed as a constant sign in the novel. Women’s bodies are prone to moisture, blood, milk, tears, and amniotic fluid, so in drowning the woman is immersed in the womanly natural element. For Edna who had found freedom in the ocean, drowning brings her back inside herself. Sleep is a significant figurative pattern consecutively through the novel.
Edna’s seconds of awakening are often lead by sleep and she does a great compact of it. Sleep is also a mean of escape and patching up her worn out emotions. Another language used in the novel is a metaphor. The author uses metaphor to speak about the character of Edna towards the end of the novel. The author uses feelings to utter the feeling and entrapment that in the long run, lead to a lethal end. Describing Edna starts in a descending coil into the rebirth of her mind, to conclude in a sensual reawakening when Edna recognize what fear is, but also what strengths she had.
The author assimilates a water pattern as a metaphor for Edna’s rebirth and sexual awakening. In Chapter 6, as Edna begins to awaken to her position in her world, the voice of the sea describes the start of a new world. The start of things, of a world especially, is necessarily unclear, muddled, and very troubling. “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude: to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.
The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace (135). ” The sea is a dominant metaphor in the novel. The sea has stood for ancient chaos and danger. In Chapter 10, Edna swims out into the ocean, only to feel an unruly fear. The author also draws awareness to the sea as a source of life and new birth. Edna’s learning how to swim present a point as she swims with dominated control towards the limitless in which to mislay her. The sea has opened up a new area of discovery for Edna. By the story’s end, Edna had given in to the authority of self-discovery and self-actualization that was voiced by the sea.
As Edna begins her final walk into the bay, the sea signifies new birth, as Edna go into the water “naked in the open air (135)” as susceptible as a newborn infant. By combining these water metaphors with diverse awakenings, the author constructs a link between the ocean and Edna’s feelings. Sleep and wakefulness also serve as metaphors throughout the novel. For Edna, to be awake is “to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her (14). ” To be awake is to recognize. To be awake is to be open-minded.
At times, the author makes the metaphor precise. Like having literally awakened from her sleep, Edna metaphorically awakens to the dramatic details of the world and asking “How many years have I slept? … The whole island seems changed. A new race of beings must have sprung up, leaving only you and me as past relics (43)” As with the metaphor of the sea, the metaphor of wakefulness concluded in the last chapter. Edna did reflect and realized her essential seclusion from the old world, and her need to enter a new one, “when she lay awake upon the sofa till morning (134).
” They are associated with restlessness, and unawareness with sleep that Edna avoided. She is, greeted by the sea to an untainted kind of sleep as the sea, like a mother comforting a sleepy child. “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace (15). ” unaided in the sea, Edna will sleep the sleep of death but the story entails her to be more awake than those she left in the old world. Work Cited Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Bantam Books. New York, 1992.
Courtney from Study Moose