The Awakening

A Complicated Marriage in The Awakening College

In Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening, Edna's marriage is complicated. Her marriage is both a source of positive and negative influence on her, in that it both confines, imprisons, and depresses her while also providing her with an impetus, reasoning, and inspiration for her individual aspirations and pursuits. Edna doesn't particularly know, especially in the beginning of the novel, what is wrong, just that she is unhappy. Chopin characterizes Edna's marriage as a factor in her unhappiness, but also as a factor in her budding awakening. Edna learns, through reflection on her lack of contentment, that her marriage is the foundation for individual, social, and even paternal expectations that concern, depress, and overwhelm her. This understanding, that a majority of her problem is rooted in her marriage, leads Edna strongly in a direction toward her own life's goals. Chopin characterizes marriage as something in Edna's life which constrains, informs, and inspires her and her pursuit for personal fulfillment.

Edna's marriage to Léonce Pontellier has the force to make her feel inextricably trapped, to complicate her social and solitary life, and to otherwise confuse the care, hope, and love out of her....

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