The Awakening is a novel about a woman’s own personal growth, regardless of how society thinks she should act. Edna Pontellier, the main character, is not happy in her role as mother and wife even though she lives a very comfortable, upper middle class lifestyle. (p. 52 paragraph 3) In the end she takes her own life because she felt she could never live up to what society expected her to be. Edna’s husband, Leonce treats her more like one of his possessions and expects her to act and think like an upper middle class wife of that time frame did.
Edna did her wifely duties for the first few years of their marriage but then one summer when she was lived on Grand Isle she met Robert Lebrun who was the son of Madam Lebrun, the owner of the cottages on Grand Isle. Robert and Edna fell in love that summer. He was very kind to Edna; he would read to her, spend time with her talking and was very patient with her, these were all things Fiordaliso 2 her husband was not. As Edna and Robert’s relationship began to grow and become more intimate he left Grand Isle to go to Mexico for business ventures.
Edna became very depressed without Robert, soon her friends began to notice. (P. 70 paragraph 1, chapter XVI) Madame Ratignolle is a friend of Edna’s. Edna considers her the ideal Victorian woman, her husband and children come first in her life. Edna values her opinion greatly and thinks she is beautiful. (P. 76 paragraphs 6,7,8) Mademoiselle Reisz, another friend of Edna’s who is the opposite of Madame Ratignolle. She is not the most attractive woman she never married and with no children in fact she states she would ‘never deem a man of ordinary caliber worthy of her devotion. Later in the novel Edna meets Alcee Arobin who has a reputation of attracting young women, Edna has a brief affair with him after leaving her husband. Shortly after her affair with Alcee, Edna meets Robert again in the city and they profess their love for one another and Robert promises marriage. Edna struggles with her decision and returns to Grand Isle where she takes her life drowning in the ocean. In her last moments Edna sees her life flash before her eyes.