Mengfei Zhou (Candy)
English 111-Essay 3
October 23, 2011
Fighting against social expectations and conventional morals on the journey of progressing-liberation, women have to insist on the quest for female identity with unrelenting passion during a male-dominated period. According to Fox-Genovese’s argument that Edna’s immaturity allows her to question her social position as a social truth. However, I would argues that, in The Awakening written by Kate Chopin, Edna sets an impressive example that presents us with a figure who takes a weary and tough journey in seeking liberation and authentic identity in a complex society, along with exploring self. The courageous soul ...view middle of the document...
A mother-woman could be defined as a woman who idolizes her children, worships her husband, and esteems it a “holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.” (The Awakening, Page 9) This shows a constricted environment of forcing women to stay in a limited space without getting involved in the active society. The social expectations make women cast themselves off to follow the conventional rules. However, it seems Edna wants to do whatever she wants to do, and her rebellious ideas gradually appear on the surface. Edna is quite different from other women in the story, since “The Awakening is densely peopled with socially adapted women. And the social requires underscoring.” (Fox-Genovese, Page 259) Edna, brave and stubborn, shows her complete unwillingness to submit herself to the conventional morals and codes.
The limited space, Grand Isle, enshrouds the terrible condition and the depression of poor Edna. Fox-Genovese asserts that “If The Awakening begins with a domestic space carved out from the masculine world, it ends with an oceanic maternal space that negates the entire world.” (Page 258, Lines 67-69) This comparison between beginning and ending setting graphically illustrates the metamorphosis of Edna and her achievement of liberation and individuality. When writing about the seduction by the sea, Chopin uses a sequence of short sentences which are repeated in the first chapter and last chapter: “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, and inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.” (The Awakening, Page 14) The imagery of the ocean setting represents the romance, sexual desire, indolence, and most interestingly, the abyss of curiosity. Edna’s imagery of the oceanic world is part of the process of self-discovery and self-conscience, as the ocean tempts the soul towards the “abysses of solitude”. (Page 14) The “maze” suggests that minds sometimes intertwine to form an organic whole and thus become persuasive, showing that Edna gets lost in a world of imagination. When Edna and Madame Ratignolle have a nice conversation on the beach, the oceanic world helps Edna to have the liberating thoughts for past and future life. She talks freely about her true feelings, “Sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided.” (The Awakening, Page 17) These vivid images used by Edna to interpret her life and experience relates to the exploration of herself. Compared with Madame Rotignolle, who is socially adapted and content with conventional life like all the other women, Edna suddenly realizes that she has to make all the decisions on her own. This makes her feel guilty and miserable about continuing to move blindly through the fog of marriage with her husband. Meanwhile, Edna audaciously bids her defiance...