Would Edna have been better off not "awakening?"What are some pros and cons of Edna being awaken? Was the price of obtaining her freedom worth it?

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lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The awakening of Edna was going to happen no matter what.  She seems to be on a course that leads to the unfortunate end she comes to.  Even as she is makes changes in her life, such as sending the children away and making plans to move out of Leonce's home, she still can't seem content in these new experiences.  At her dinner party "she sat there amid her guests, (and ) she felt the old ennui overtaking her; the hopelessness which so often assailed her, which came upon her like an obsession, like something extraneous, independent of volition."  Edna's need to seek this awakening is not new, it has just reached a breaking point.  When she realizes that she can't ever really be free she feels that "old terror flame up for an instant" but it fades just as quickly.  She has a terror of swimming out too far, which metaphorically represents being too far from the society she knows. And perhaps it represents a fear of death, but the fact that the terror fades quickly suggests that the price for freedom is something Edna willingly accepts.  She is warned by Reisz that she will have to be strong, and she proves to be strong enough to end this all her way.

amtavares's profile pic

amtavares | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Edna was always destined to become "awakened." From the beginning of the novel she felt off and out of touch with the world.  She didn't understand what the problem was, only that there was one.  Her awakening causes her to finally live and feel for once in her life.  She was alive and doing the things that made her happy in a time and society when that was not accepted.  Although her actions caused every aspect of her life to fall apart, from her marriage to her children and friends, it was more than worth it to Edna.  When she commits suicide at the end of the book, the reader is not meant to feel sorry for her, because she has finally achieved what she's been yearning for--a complete sense of freedom.

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