How do the romantic obsessions of other characters you have studied compare to Edna's romantic relationships in The Awakening?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is an interesting question, because, in a sense, Edna in this brilliant novel is more obsessed by her own desire to be free and to escape the narrow restrictions that society have placed upon her than she is obsessed by her lover. This is a novel that is more about an "awakening" of one woman and her desire to be able to express herself as she chooses than it is about love or any particular relationship. Note how this is expressed through an act of defiance against her husband in Chapter 11 of this novel. Having experienced her first climactic swim in the sea, Edna finds that she does not want to submit and obey her husband as she has done so often before:

She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted. She wondered if her husband had ever spoken to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his command. Of course she had; she remembered that she had. But she could not realize why or how she should have yielded, feeling as she then did.

Thus we can see that this novel is more about Edna's obsession to be her own person, free from the restrictions that society have placed upon her, rather than anything else.

In terms of other texts that would be suitable for comparison, certainly A Doll's House would be an excellent example of one woman who discovers the way that her marriage and the roles that society has forced upon her have made her not be true to herself. Nora's defiant abandonment of both her marriage and her children can be paralleled to Edna's rejection of similar societal expectations. In addition, you might want to think about The House on Mango Street, which presents us with a more contemporary strong female figure that is determiend to not follow the path that is expected of her and get married young and have children. Esperanza could thus be viewed as a literary descendant of such characters as Nora and Edna in her determination to not let her gender alone determine the outcome of her life.

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bval | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Edna is a woman caught in the Creole society. She is married and had children. After spending the summer at Grand Island and swimming in the water for the first time, she begins to realize that she wants to be free to be her own person. The caged parrott at the beginning of the novel symbolizes this desire to become free. The water is also symbolic of her desire to become free. The water and the sea appear several times through out the novel. The women in the book both symbolize the two sides of Edna. Reize is a free spirit, but she must deal with the way society treats her because she is a free spirit. Ratigonnelle is the ideal mother and symbolizes the role that Edna is not sure she wants. When Edna falls in love with Robert, a man that is not her husband, she realizes her desire to become free. She paints and moves into a smaller house. These events are all symbolic of her desire to break out of the role of a traditional woman during this time period. Think of other women you have read about that also desire to escape the role that society has placed them in and how their relationships cause them to realize this desire to break free. In the play A Doll's House, by Henik Ibsen, Nora has a similar desire to break free. Nora is married and loves her husband. She forges a signature to obtain the money to take her husband on a life saving trip to Italy. Nora is later blackmailed for her crime, and when she realizes that her husband is only worried about his reputation, she knows that she needs to break free. She realizes that she must learn about the world on her own, and she leaves her husband and children at the end of the play. Similar to The Awakening, Nora has a female friend, Mrs Linde, who helps her to see what it is like to be an independent woman.

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