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The time period that The Awakening took place in was a very restrictive time for women. A woman of Edna's status was supposed to marry well, have some nice little hobby, have children, keep house with her servants, and be obedient to her husband. It was very limiting if you had any desires past this. Chopin, a writer herself, obviously understood the push-pull between what society demanded of you and what your heart wanted.
However, it's very clear that while Chopin sympathizes with Edna's plight, she obviously doesn't think it's a good idea for Edna to not only abandon her husband (who offers protection for Edna from the darker parts of society as well as being able to provide for her in her old age), she definitely does not think it's okay to abandon her children which is why the consequence of being free are so great at the end.
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