How does Kate Chopin uses the characters in The Awakening to cast Edna Pontellier's desires in sharp relief?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Kate Chopin was quite wise in surrounding Edna Pontellier with sharply distinctive characters who greatly contrast Edna's own social status. Instead of corrupting Edna, or trying to change her, they all serve as extensions of Edna. Her friends include Mademoiselle Reisz, who is an independent, liberated bohemian-type musician, and Adèle Ratignoll who is a reflection of Edna's own prudish upbringing. Robert, her love interest, is young, free, and passionate, while Arobin is a skirt-chasing free spirit.

All these characters are reflections of Edna's own needs for freedom, and her internal battles against the imposed conventions of the time. When she "awakens", she finds herself becoming a totally different woman than what she thought she was. She eventually died in isolation, but it is obvious that Chopin was clever to connect Edna to characters who represent her multifaceted personality.

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fly1234 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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leonance pontellier, edna's husband is obssessed with how society looks at him and his family therefore want Edna to display the perfect wife and mother figure though he does not understand edna's true feelings and emotions. He lacks passion and excitement which repels Edna away from him and find love with Robert who is more passionate and dramatic.

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