Not a Vanquished Rebel But a Successful Explorer of Newer Realms: A Study of Edna Pontellier in Chopin’s The Awakening
The IUP Journal of English Studies, Vol. VI, No. 3, September 2011, pp. 61-72
Posted: 6 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 5, 2012
Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost make us feel that the first man and the first woman are similar, and yet they are different for they are unequal. The first woman is for the first man, for “God in him.” Her identity is thus determined by her relationship with and subordination to him. The element of inequality also characterizes marital relationships and gender dynamics in the Creole world of The Awakening. A sense of inequality and subordination precipitate the crisis in the life of Edna Pontellier. Edna refuses to be “for him” (her husband); she quests for a feminine identity that defies the prevalent social norms and expectations. Edna finally opts for the vast expanse of the sea rejecting the constraints imposed by society. Her swimming out into the sea is not a desperate act of self-destruction of a vanquished rebel. It is an exploration of newer spaces and of a new alternative for women — the alternative of noncompliance, non-subjugation, and bold defiance.
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