Edna Pontellier: Contradictions between the way others see her and the way she sees herself in The Awakening.
Edna Pontellier is caught in the contradictions between the way others see her and the way she sees herself. Identify several moments in which this becomes apparent, and show Edna’s growing awareness of this contradiction.
Society sees institutions and the external, whereas Edna sees only the individual.
Society sees a woman as a product, a stage, a means to an end, whereas Edna sees herself as an active agent in the world.
Society sees a woman as defined by what she has (marriage, children, property, friends, clothes), not by who she is (beliefs, dreams).
Society sees marriage as a socio-economic institution (it opens doors to money and friends), whereas Edna sees it as a cage to limit the individual.
Society sees children as the reason for mothers to live, but Edna sees them as individuals unto themselves, not solely reliant upon the mother.
Society sees the ocean as a means of passage only (what goes on above), whereas Edna sees only the depths beneath it (death by drowning).