“The Awakening” is a novel about a married woman (Edna) in the late 1800s who reaches conflict within herself, with her family and with society when she seeks self-fulfillment and the need to discover who she is. As she begins the process of “finding” herself, she still must be a role model and mother to her sons and a wife to her husband. She soon realized that she was bored and not content with the life she already had. It was not that she did not want to be a mother to her children. She loved her children, but she just was not a loving, doting mother, and this is one of the supporting details as to Edna not wanting to mature. The ultimate fact that “The Awakening” is trying to bring into the light is that sometimes it is not possible to escape society’s ill views on you. Sometimes society’s limitations are too much, and it causes one to question one’s own existence.
One of the main points in “The Awakening” is the fact that Edna might have been a good mother at one point, but when the novel was written she had already become selfish and self-absorbed, and as the novel goes on, her actions become worse. She was not even a good mother on vacation. This passage is pretty much saying that while on vacation, all Edna cared about was entertaining herself; she does not even bother wondering what her children were doing, or even knowing were that were even at.
All her life, Edna was told what to do. She never had any room to breathe or make her own decisions. When her husband went on a long business trip to New York, she was able to finally have the ability to do all of these things; she was finally able to experience what she was feeling physically and emotionally. She is able to become the boss of her own life and take a more active role in her decision making.
In this novel, Edna surrounds herself with people that were able to remind her of her “duties” as an adult. Adèle Ratignolle was her closest friend and she was a prime mother who reminded Edna, through her actions, how to be a mother. Edna talked to Adèle about her new thoughts on life, but Adèle thinks that Edna is “sinful” in these thoughts and encourages Edna to forget about the frivolousness and change her ways. Another person that Edna got close to was
Mademoiselle Reisz. She was a free-spirited woman who Edna wanted to be like; she represented the type of woman that Edna wanted to become. She was real. Mademoiselle Reisz did not care about what society thought, but instead did her own thing. Edna “falls in love” with a few man while she was trying to find herself. The main man was Robert Lebrun. They both develop feeling for each other and get close throughout the novel. Robert eventually lets Edna know that he is in love with her; and he knows that it would not work out because she is married. Out of respect for Edna’s husband, Robert leaves and the novel ends when Edna commits suicide by swimming out into sea. Ultimately, “The Awakening” is a novel about a married woman who loses interest in the life that she made while she was married. She loses interest in her husband. She loses interest in her children. Her selfish and self-centered desires lead her to becoming more physically and emotionally confused. At one point, she as a good mother and wife, but as her married life went on, she lost interest in it all. The novel pointed out points on love, marriage and society. Edna hated marriage so much because she saw the freedom her husband had, and she wanted that freedom too. In “The Awakening,” true love does not exist. Last, if Edna did not went on vacation, she might not have realized that she was not happy in her marriage, and she would have stayed faithful to her husband.