results from becoming independent.
ramification of self-expression and awakening of one’s true self.
are restricted and repressed because of their gender and the Victorian Era
decays as Edna’s independence increases.
Edna Pontellier is the protagonist
of the novel and all the themes are related to her, to her “awakening” of her true
self, and to the most liberal point of view on womanhood and their role in
society, at the time. She breaks through the role that was appointed to her by
society, and discovers her own identity which makes her becomes independent
from her family and her role as a mother. At the beginning of the novel, Edna
is vaguely aware of her cravings, as she feels comfortable in her marriage, which
she sees as a way of being responsible, rather than loving someone. However,
she regains all the passion that was lost when she meets Robert. The people
Edna meets and the experiences she has on Grand Isle motivate the awakening of urges
and desires towards artistic and passionate subjects that she can no longer
keep inside of her. She begins to see the world around her with a fresh
perspective, and leaves behind all the behavior expected from her by ignoring the
consequences of her groundbreaking actions. For example, the quote: “The
pigeon-house pleased her. It at once assumed the intimate character of a home,
while she herself invested it with a charm which it reflected like a warm glow.
There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a
corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual. Every step which she took
toward relieving herself from obligations added to her strength and expansion
as an individual. She began to look with her own eyes; to see and to apprehend
the deeper undercurrents of life. No longer was she content to “feed upon
opinion” when her own soul had invited her”, contributes to further the theme
that solitude results from independence and that the awakening of her one true
self leads her to take a step towards independence as a being, and to relive
herself from all of her duties.
Reisz is an atypical woman, whom Edna looks up to, through the duration of the
novel, because of her artistic and distant, but thoughtful character that makes
her subject to criticism. Edna believes that she’s obnoxious, but she envies her
lifestyle. Each other’s companies gives both of them the opportunity to share their
thoughts on love, passion, and art. Ms. Reisz is a type of an afflatus for Edna
by acting as a living example of a fully self-sufficient woman, who is led by
her artistic ways and her passions, rather than by society’s expectations.
Mademoiselle Reisz acts as the antithesis for Adèle Ratignolle, who lives the
socially accepted lifestyle that Mademoiselle Reisz declined to be able to
achieve the autonomy and freedom, that Edna seeks. The theme of solitude
relates to Ms. Reisz showing how her alienation and loneliness result from her independence
as a woman.
Ratignole is a completely different person from Mademoiselle Reisz, thus she could
be considered her foil, in the novel. Adèle is the typical stereotype wife of
the Victorian Era: she cares for her children, accomplishes her household
duties, and always tries to ensure her husband’s happiness. However, Adèle
expresses, in a way, similar opinions to Edna’s, but instead of carrying them
on, she performs society’s expectations. Moreover, it is seen that Adèle doesn’t
change throughout the novel, but instead that her actions remain the same. For
example, she gives birth to another child, and she
The novel is narrated in the third
person, and the narrator’s attitude towards Edna and her ideology is rather positive.
The tone is usually objective, although it sporadically demonstrates support
for the themes relating to the female liberty movement that are being symbolized
in the novel by Edna’s awakening. The rising action of the novel is when Edna
starts opening up her point of view and her ideology by flirting with Robert
Lebrun, listening to Mademoiselle Reisz play the piano, and swimming in the
ocean for the first time, which endows her with the intrepidity to start her
journey of awakening her mind and her body. The climax of the novel is defined
by a series of different awakenings that can be described as multiple climaxes,
although her suicide is considered the final and most important climax of the
novel, in addition for it also being the falling action.
The novel is set in 1899, which
was a period of time where movements like the Industrial Revolution and the
feminist movement were emerging; although they were somehow concealed and
overshadowed by the prevailing attitudes of the nineteenth century. The novel begins
at a famous vacation spot for the affluent Creoles from New Orleans, called
Grand Isle. Grand Isle is The other half of the novel is set in New Orleans, mainly
in the French Quarter. New Orleans in the nineteenth century was