The Awakening

Effects of the Environment on Edna's Psyche

Kate Chopin seamlessly integrates plot with setting in her novel The Awakening. Various locations mold Edna Pontellier into a bold transgressor of outdated social conventions, and allow for her dynamic growth. Edna grows accustomed to the lax customs found on Grande Isle, and gradually transitions into a more independent state. Chênière Caminada represents a haven from any familial obligations for Edna. However, the strict schedules and structures of New Orleans prevent Edna from continuing harmlessly as she did on Grand Isle or the Chênière, and she then begins to actively rebel against the Creole way of life. Distinct environments shape Edna’s persona, each eliciting different emotions and moods from her.

The relaxed atmosphere of Grande Isle allows Edna the freedom to develop her opinions and desires regarding her current life. Edna experiences life without her husband, Léonce, and children binding her, and begins “to loosen a little the mantle of reserve that [has] always enveloped her” (14). When society does not force a role upon Edna, she gains the capacity to truly evaluate her life. Edna nervously realizes that the absence of her children “free[s] her of a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate...

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