Why does Edna commit suicide at the end of the book?

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Throughout The Awakening, as the title suggests, protagonist Edna Pontellier slowly realizes that she is not content with her situation in life. Edna is an upper-class white woman living in New Orleans just before the turn of the twentieth century. As such, there are expectations and norms for her behavior. She should be the ideal Victorian housewife, devoting her life to her husband and children. Before the pivotal summer at Grand Isle with which the novella opens, Edna moves through her life unquestioning of the social expectations that govern her existence. However, the combination of the sea,

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bluejean | Student

I first read The Awakening in 1978.  I did not understand Edna's dilemma until 2000 through my own experience.

Edna had found  true love with Robert and a sexual intensity that she could never find again.  The depth of true love MUST be a part of our sexual experience to truly satisfy.  Trying to recapture that experience through sexual gratification alone was impossible for her.  It had driven her so strongly that she gave up her children to search for it. This goes against all social expectations even today! When JUST the sexual experience did not bring the depth of her relationship she had experienced with Robert, it deeply grieved her to the point where she could not go back and could not go forward!

All she could think of during her lifetime was Robert. It's called 'dieing from a broken heart'(wing)!

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