In Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, is not an ordinary woman of her time. This era in which she lived women cared for their family and home more than anything else. Edna was different. She constantly fights against social cultures that people had during this time. She learns about herself, she can not be just a “mother-woman” but she has a lot ahead in her future. The oppressive society and the difficulties she was facing and problems with her family led to Edna’s suicide in the novel. The suicide was not necessary, and it is clearly that was not the best option Edna had in escaping all her problems.
As we read “The Awakening”,we see that women are supposed or expected to serve their husband, their children and their home in general. The role they have should be accomplished. It is shown that if a woman chooses alternative behaviors or lifestyles will disgrace her husband. Edna’s husband would always get mad at her for ignoring the children. “He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of the children. If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, who’s on earth was it? He himself had his hands full with his brokerage business”(3).Edna was convinced that society’s expectations of her do not corresponded to the way in which she viewed herself, as a member of it.
That was probably the reason why Edna decided to commit suicide. She thought she did not belonged to this era; she was different from others. We see how she feels that drowning herself in the sea is the best way she can evade her children and husband. We know that the sea symbolizes Edna’s freedom from oppression. Edna feels she is drowned by the way society thinks, she feels trapped with her family. She wants to start a new life.
She has to choose between staying with Leonce, or breaking free from her marriage but having nowhere to go. Although at the beginning the sea intimidates Edna, then allows her to “escape” from society, and brings Edna her “best” option and desired isolation in death. Throughout the novel, the sea calls to Edna and invites her to escape. “The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation” (8).
She thought that was her only option. She walks into the sea, she begins to swim. We are told that she grows progressively more tired.
Since she has thought so much about this swim, Edna knew she should have to turn back at the first sign of exhaustion. But she doesn’t. She continues on to her ultimate death, and that is the way she commits suicide.Comparatively, there is not much evidence to say that it was not suicide. Many people think that it was a natural death and not suicide. They think that maybe she just started swimming without knowing the consequences.
But this argument is not valid, in the novel it says that she thought very well about this trip. She knew that the sea had no beginning or end and still decided to continue swimming. She “goes on and on…thinking it the sea had no beginning and no end,” (Chopin 77). When you read the title of this book you imagine a different ending.
“The awakening”, we know that there were many problems and social expectations at that time but it would have been better an end that woke up people or even the world. An ending that motivates people to fight for what they want and not just give up. She probably thought that the sea would free her from all her problems, since the sea had the symbol of freedom, and it did release her but at the same time it took her life without her being able to do anything. Without having other opportunities in the future to be able to change her life. It was difficult, but her future may have changed for the better. She left her children without knowing what they could suffer because of her death. She did it, she did it miserably without thinking of others other than herself. A mom normally cares and would even give her life for her children no matter if you lived 100 years ago or even now in the 21st century they will worry about their children and that is something that Edna never cared aboutHer thoughts right before her death offer a credible, non-suicidal ending.
But she knew what she was about to do. Definitely committing suicide was not the best option for Edna, she could have fought for what she wanted. It is important to always fight for what you want and not give up just because you can not find the way out. There is always going to be a proper exit you just have to fight, not give up, and find it.