Why did Edna kill herself in The Awakening?

In The Awakening, Edna kills herself when her lover, Robert, leaves her. She has failed to find happiness or fulfillment in anything, and she gives in to despair.

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In The Awakening, Edna Pontellier, the protagonist, commits suicide at the end of the novel because her lover Robert Lebrun has left her but also because she has failed to find her true place in the world.

By this point in the novel, Edna has turned her back on much of her life. She has never been fully satisfied in marriage and motherhood. Unlike her friend Adèle, Edna does not identify herself as a wife and mother. She is not satisfied with those roles, yet she does not entirely pretend to be either. She has floated through life, unable to settle into anything.

After her time at Grand Isle and Robert's first departure, Edna tries to strike out on her own. She engages in new activities (painting and gambling on horse races), asserts her independence, begins an affair with another man, and even moves out of her family's home and into a little house of her own. Yet nothing makes her truly happy. She is constantly searching and never finding.

When Robert returns, Edna renews her affair with him. But while she is helping Adèle, Robert leaves with only a short note telling Edna that he loves her but is leaving because he loves her. Edna does not understand. She becomes depressed, filled with despair, and after a sleepless night, she goes out to Grand Isle, swims out from shore, stops swimming, and drowns. Losing Robert is the final blow in a long search for happiness and fulfillment that feels impossible for her to achieve in her restrictive society.

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Why is Edna unhappy in The Awakening?

In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Edna Pontellier is an extremely unhappy woman because she feels deeply unfulfilled.

Edna married young, and while she thought Léonce Pontellier was a compatible match, she has discovered over the years that she married him without knowing much about him. They are not compatible, and she does not love him. Edna does not even feel much affection toward her two children at times. She certainly does not dote on them like some mothers do, and she believes that she is not cut out to be a wife and mother. She has been forced into the position that society expects of her, and she doesn't believe that it suits her. Therefore, she is unhappy and feels trapped.

Yet when Edna begins to branch out and become independent, she does not find true happiness either. Her affair with Robert Lebrun is linked with her “awakening,” as she falls in love with him. But Robert soon leaves her and goes to Mexico. Edna has tied too much of her newfound freedom to the relationship, and now she cannot fully find herself without him. She tries all kinds of things: painting, music, and gambling. She leaves her family and strikes out on her own in her own house. She carries on another affair. Yet Edna realizes that, no matter what choices she makes, there will be societal consequences that she cannot escape.

When Robert returns, Edna believes that she has another chance at happiness. But her lover leaves once more, realizing that Edna has grown too independent to his liking, and she turns to despair. She goes to Grand Isle and numbly swims out into the sea, feeling that this is her only option.

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