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.

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Early in the novel, we see Edna begin to "awaken" to the truth of her inner self, as well as to the ways that self does not and cannot fulfill the expectations of the society around her. Edna Pontellier is an upper-class woman living in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century. She is married and has small children, and she is expected to devote herself to them. She is expected to fulfill certain social obligations, like remaining at home on particular days to welcome visitors. While she is on vacation in Grand Isle one summer, everything begins to change for Edna. The sea has an influence on her, as do the music of Mme. Reisz and her relationship with Robert Lebrun. When she returns to the city, Edna no longer wants to obey her husband's wishes or her society's rules. She wants to follow her own desires and be true to her authentic self.

A key quote on the contradictions between Edna's inner self and the expectations set on her by society is found about halfway through the novel,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 932 words.)

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