In Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," is Edna a fallen woman? Explain your answer.

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The question as to whether Edna is a fallen woman would depend on two things: the era in which the story was written, and the era in which it is being read now. Both have very different expectations (if the tabloids and Hollywood "entertainment shows" are any judge).

In the time in which "The Awakening" is set, society's expectations were very different—at least for women.

Dr. Susan E. Ward, Professor at St. Lawrence University, notes that in the Creole society in which Edna lives, there are clear cut rules regarding what is expected of its women:

Women are to be pious and pure, obedient and domestic before they are to be anything else.

Edna's Victorian husband, Léonce, seems a proper husband who seeks out medical advice from a friend regarding Edna's behavior, and he even tries to make her feel better by allowing "new fixtures for the library." He is what society has made him, but not a bad husband at all. However, Edna is unable to be the woman society wants her to be: she is unhappy and unfulfilled. Unlike Adèle Ratignole, who is the perfect wife and "mother-woman," Edna's awakening is, in part, coming to the knowledge that she is not meant to be a wife and mother.

The rest of the changes Edna goes through deal with her romantic connection to Robert Lebrun, who she becomes infatuated—perhaps in love—with, though their relationship is never "consummated:" he and she do not run away; he tries his best to do what is right by this married woman. The loss of Robert devastates Edna. The third part of Edna's awakening comes at the hands of Alcée Arobin. Their relationship is a physical one: Edna is awakened to an exciting and passionate side of herself.

However, none of these things brings...

(The entire section contains 597 words.)

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