In this section of the book, Edna's awakening deepens. Not only in the sexual realm, Edna also begins to awaken artistically. She takes it upon herself to pursue painting even if it disagrees with Mr. Pontellier's expectations. She does so also by getting closer to Mademoiselle Reisz, a woman known to disregard convention and live in loneliness. In fact, Edna's appreciation of loneliness and isolation becomes notable in the selected chapters. Edna feels most at ease when she is wandering through the streets alone or contemplating " a radiant peace when she at last found herself alone" (Chopin 97). Conversely, the relationship between Edna and Leonce deteriorates. Leonce's ideal of a caring mother-figure who tends zealously to the household is far from reality.He even consults a physician regarding her mental state. He thinks Edna has "got some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women" and that "she's not like herself" (Chopin 88). Meanwhile, Mrs. Ratignolle serves as a foil for all the qualities Edna does not exhibit, such as : "domestic harmony" (Chopin 75). Indeed, Edna appears to have become a person completely adverse to who she was at the start of the novel. This change also involves her sudden infatuation with Robert. After rejecting his advances, Edna becomes deeply attached to him and misses him terribly once he leaves for Mexico. When solicited by Arobin in Chapter 25, Edna, as she rejects him, thinks not of her husband; "she was thinking of Robert Lebrun" (Chopin 104).
How would you describe Edna's feelings towards Mr. Pontellier?
How does Edna's father paint a picture (pun intended) of Victorian patriarchalism?
Why does Robert show little emotion towards Edna when he departs but later obsesses over her in a letter towards Mad. Reisz? Is he conflicted or is he respectful of convention?
One connection I made was to an article I recently read which talked about the multiplicity of selves within an individual as well as some interesting psychological phenomena. In the article, Bloom tells of how "no matter how you test it, children make us less happy" and that there is no such thing as "empty-nest syndrome". The interesting thing is that most parents expound on how happy children have made them, and how proud they are of their offspring, when ironically they were happier without them. Edna is an exception to that "rule" in that she openly claims to be happier when left alone. Some people just aren't cut out to be mothers. Another connection made was to Beatrix Potter. Both women are steely artists who had to deal with sexist societies inhibiting their talents.
“INSIDE EVERY GIRL THERE IS A BOY”
Bernardo, I completely accede to what you claim about a deeper awakening is taking over Edna and her actions. However, I question if her awakening is only precisely related to sexual and artistic desires, such as painting. Right at this point in the book, I see Edna as an independent lady, who enjoys acting more like a “men than a women”. In her every single act, Edna only choses to do what she desires, and I believe her awakening is broader. She seems to me to have become more masculine in some ways: where she walks alone to places, talks about horse-races publically, walks with people that only please her, orders around the house only when she fancies and etc. It seems to me that Edna wants to become more independent like a man. She wants to take the role of as well being a source of income. Chopin leaves clear in her novel that money and ownership in a way walk side by side in the Creole society. In the first chapters it was clear that by having and gaining money, men expected their wives to be submissive, while they had to produce capital to sustain their families. Women were viewed as objects that were suppose to please others, instead of themselves. They were seen as “a very peculiar and delicate organisms” as the Doctor described it (Chopin 89). Now, it seems that is this authority role, which Edna seems to want to be so familiar with; she wants to stop being seen as something fragile, as a breakable object or organism, and more as who she is as a human being. She wants to be pleased by her own stake, as she “noticed one or two men at the Soirée musicale. (…) Her fancy selected them, and she was glad when a lull in the music gave them an opportunity to meet her and talk to her” regardless of the fact she was a married woman (Chopin 92). This is an excellent example where Edna uses her new discovery to act more according to her own wiliness. Moreover, another valid example of this new role she wants to take is when she declares to Madame Ratignolle: “I believe I ought to work again. I feel as if I wanted to be doing something”(Chopin 74). Or when during the Horse-Races, Edna shows her expertise in the subject without being afraid of how it may be seen by Mrs. Highcamp who “remained with uplifted eyebrows as Edna sat between her two companions as one having authority to speak” (Chopin 100).
Furthermore, Edna acts less as a decided woman, and more as a “determined”, who is moved “by a kind of commiseration for Madame Ratignolle (and all submissive women)—A pity for that colorless existence which never uplifted its possessor beyond the region of blind contentment, in which no moment of anguish ever visited her soul, in which she would never have the taste of life`s delirium”(Chopin 75-76). Thus, I can see Edna in these chapters as women that realized that she could much more than please her husband as is constantly portrayed by Madame Ratignolle`s and Madame Highcamp`s actions. Now the question lies in: Is Chopin trying to criticize the Society for implementing sexist ideals into women`s heads; or criticizing women themselves for not realizing it? (Notice the Quote):
“Edna had once told Madame Ratignolle that she would never sacrifice herself for her two children, or for any one. Edna said, ‘I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn`t give myself.’ And Mrs. Ratgnolle responded: ‘but a woman who would gives her life for her children could do no more than that-your Bible tells you so. I’m sure I couldn’t do more than that” (Chopin 64).
And Edna responded: “Oh, yes you could!” (Chopin 64).
Coming back to the question: Is Chopin trying to criticize the Society for implementing sexist ideals into women`s heads; or criticizing women themselves for not realizing it?
Recently I have seen the movie The Duchess by director Soul Dibb, and I could only relate it to Edna Potellier. It amazed me how much these two women had in common. They lived in similar times, and were feminist strong women who weren`t afraid to freely expose their sexual awakening. In one side we have Edna, who different from Georgina, didn`t like social events, while Georgina`s full consumerism laid upon them. Furthermore, Georgina, didn`t live happily with her husband`s affairs, however that didn`t stop her of having one either, after her realization of the society`s hypocrisy. Your Grace showed her strong feminist ideals through the shocking clothes she wore, and her strong involvement in politics. While, Edna showed her feminist ideals through her honest comments and “notorious” actions from which she didn`t seemed to care about what others might say.
After reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, I could see that Edna and Anna weren`t
For some weird reason the blog cut the text at the end!!! There`s the rest!
After reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, I could see that Edna and Anna weren`t as well that different. In Tostoy`s novel, Anna is a ravishing women like Edna, who as well seeks adventure and comfort in another man`s arms named Vronsky. She sees the hypocrisy of society and decides to please herself as well. Similarly, both women understand the “machismo” behind the society they live in; where women are objects, and these two women can`t stand to live with this reality. This is one of the things that drives Anna to kill herself by jumping in front of a train. After she leaves her husband, she can’t stand living with her lover, because she believes that she will fall into the same pattern she was before: of having to be submissive and nondependent, after losing everything. Furthermore, Anna doesn`t seem to be such a caring mother, similar to Edna, due to the fact that she prefers to live with Vronsky (lover) and lose her child, that stays with her ex-husband after she tells him about her affair and the baby she awaits from her lover. Moreover, Anna Karenin kills herself at the end, don`t you think that is a little selfish of her considering she has a child? Do you think that that is something likely of Edna to do? Even though we haven`t seen Edna explicitly commit adultery, there was a comment in chapter 23, where the Doctor tells a tale about adultery and Edna has no reaction to it. Could we say that Edna`s lack of response to the tale is a foreshadowing of what she could do in the future?
"Acting in the opposite way"
I completely agree on what you said about Edna, it seems to me that she changed her perspective over life as she turned to be a independente lady. I would like to complement on what you said about Edna acting as a “boy”, which for me was a really significant comment, since usually we see boys acting the way she is. She was showing that she was really decided to be independent, and that she didn’t want to be with her husband any longer “Oh! Dear no!’ said Edna, with black look in her eyes ‘What should I do if he stayed home? We wouldn’t have anything to say to each other’”.
I algo agree on what you said about the way she acts, but the feeling that is actually inside her. The way she shows that she doesn’t care about her children, for me its a type of boy’s actions, since women tend to take care of their children. Its interesting that the more she discovers about life, it seems to be that she “fell in love” with being independent. For me things started to be much more clear about the characters personality. Throughtout pages 47 to 105, it was possible to realize that Edna’s awakening changed her entire perspective of life and the way she acts and the things she started to believe in. I questioned myself many times if the author uses the types of actions that Edna did on purpose, in order to compare the life of women and men? Did the author wanted to pass a feminist message through the book? Did the author had the objective to show a women acting like a men in a time which women tend to be taking care of their children?
I'm not sure if my connection makes sense, however I think its important to point out that throughout this part of the book the book "War Child" came to my mind many times. There is no specific part of each book in which I compare with, but in War Child, Emmanuel Jal passed the information that if we believe in something, and if we really want to be somewhere, doing something, we should never give up on that, and Edna started to show the same by going and fighting against the society but for something she thought was the best for her. I know it may seem to be strange, but this is kind of a overall comparison between two totally different stories.
I forgot to put the quote in MLA citation, so here it goes:
“Oh! Dear no!’ said Edna, with black look in her eyes ‘What should I do if he stayed home? We wouldn’t have anything to say to each other’”. (Chopin 93)
Sorry about that =/
* Title- Edna's Enlightenment Furthers
The vertigo of a lucid dream. Pgs. 47-105
In this section of the book ore is discovered about Edna. Now it is possible to see how her own awakening has changed her life perspective and how everyone realizes that. While I’m reading every time I’m more aware of the foreshadowing the Kate Chopin did in this book. Like an example I found right away “A feeling of oppression and drowsiness overcame Edna”(Chopin 47) Edna feels this way the day after she swam, she felt like anyone else that had just experienced something prohibited, amazing but specially unknown. I can totally connect how Edna fell after her awakening with my own experiences and on how it feels.
Something curious I found out is when Edna says: “The whole island seems changed. A new race of beings must have sprung up, leaving only you (Robert) and me as past relics. How many ages ago did Madame Antoine and Tonie die? “ (Chopin 51) I find this quote curious and intriguing because did the author referred to Edna’s realization of her rights? Or in which women would take years to be like Edna, and wake up from the nightmare of oppression given by society?
Also another question that I had to make myself if Edna’s awakening was because she got infatuated with Robert or was her thinking that led her to a change?
I do also connect Edna with phrases. The first one says more less like this: “Forget the infamous creature you really are, that is how you should be.” Was written by Karen Horney. It totally relates with Edna because it is exactly, what she did until this part of the book. She decided to care about her inner self, what relates to another best-known quote that says: “Know thyself,” said by many authors including Socrates. Edna at this part is trying to find herself, while in the process she finds out she is in love with Robert. This happens when Alcée Arobin has moment of attraction for Edna, she realizes she is thinking about Robert Lebrun.
To finalize something that did also drawn my attention is how with her awakening Edna starts painting, but only in days with sun. It’s like now instead of society controlling her, the nature is controlling her by some way or another. Like if the weather and the heat of the sun was now her reason to be alive, just like a flower. As well her painting can be seen as a metaphor of Edna painting a tracing her own life with colors what would be the moments of flavor and joy inside the freedom she is seeking.
"A womans place is in the kitchen"
The way which Edna recieves the news that her husband is departing to Mexico demonstrates society's imposed morlas and values at the time. As previousy related to, Mr. Pontellier makes it clear that a women are obliged to be mothers and serve faithfully their husband and childeren. A constrast to these thoughts is generated however in the way which Robert refares to Edna as "my dear". Although the word "my" also insuinates ownership, along with this, it demonstrates kindness and affection.
Edna's sexual awakening towards Robert reminds me deeply of "The Handsmaid's Tail" by Margaret Atwood. Yes, of course there js a grave similarity being that both books are extremly feminist and break the imposed morals at the time, however the characters also have absurd amounts of similar traits. Offred, the protagonist of the novel, is athe feminist figure however never fully joins the resistance. This is similar, however very different from Edna. Her rebelions are internal, although she does show a large neglect to the maternal obligations. Edna, unlike Offred, changes her way of dressing, creating a scandalous confrontation to the Victorian values of the time. Another similarity encountered in both both novels is the foreshadowing presented and the awakening with a male character, insinuating an affair. Nick possessed a valuable role in Offreds sexual awakening. Just like between Robert and Edna, Offred and Nick posses a sexual chemistry and are seen as a promise for excitement and pleasure which has been denied to the main characters.
Anyone else who has read "The Handmaid's Tale" please comment and express your opinion, or whether you also saw this connection.
“If Only She Knew”
Now that most characters have been introduced, I find it worthwhile to share some of my character appearances’ headcanons. They mostly don’t follow the book’s descriptions, and the ages might differ, but as I read the story, I pictured them sort of like this:
Edna - http://goo.gl/DRvIGm (the one on the left; not Emma Watson)
Robert - http://goo.gl/Wbk5fj
Madame Ratignolle - http://goo.gl/ZsaMbz (the character is called Adele so this was inevitable)
Mr. Pontellier - http://goo.gl/HEO3Yt
Arobin - http://goo.gl/kZeVxK
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage others to share their headcanons as well!! It’s quite fun, and I’d like to know how different our selections might have been!
[A FEW SPOILERS FROM NOW ON…]
As mentioned on my previous post, I am a ‘Robert-Edna shipper’. What do I mean by that? It means I root for Robert and Edna feverously. (What is a shipper, you ask? Read here: http://goo.gl/8JvCE7 ) . So, of course, when Robert left so drastically for Mexico, my poor heart was crushed! I was tempted to seek spoilers as to if or when he’d make an appearance again, but was able to contain myself. “[…] Robert had sung as they crossed the bay. It began with ‘Ah! Si tu savais’, and every verse ended with ‘si tu savais’.” (Chopin 54) This song is constantly sung throughout the story and ‘si tu savais’ is French for ‘if you knew’, which is incredible because if only Edna wasn’t so blind, she’d see that Robert always loved her, and he wouldn’t have to take off to Mexico, and they’d be able to live life happily instead of having such a tragic end.
Relationships aside, these chapters mark great facts for Edna’s independence. For instance, it is on chapter 16 that she claims that “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.” (Chopin 64) Even after finishing the book, I am still unsure on what the author meant by this. What are your interpretations of this quote?
She also begins to spend more time at her Atelier, and at one point attempts to damage her wedding ring by tossing it on the ground and stomping on it. In conclusion, “She began to do as she liked and to feel as she liked.” (Chopin 76)
Surprisingly, there were a few characters who didn’t see anything atrocious in her way of being, such as the doctor and her father, the latter making me wish we’d gained more insight into Edna’s relations with her family growing up, and into her past overall.
Another character we get to meet in this section is Alcèe Arobin, who was mentioned briefly earler, by Robert, who told Madame Ratignolle the following; “Now if I were like Arobin-you remember Alcee Arobin and that story of the consul’s wife at Biloxi?” (Chopin 27), and then proceeds to telling her said story, although as readers, we don’t get to read it. However, as they were on the topic of love affairs, it is safe to assume that Arobin had an affair with the consul’s wife. Later, on page 94, Arobin makes a ‘cameo’ appearance at the horse race, and apparently has a shoddy reputation, because the doctor says, upon leaving the dinner at the Pontelliers’, that “I hope it isn’t Arobin […] I hope to heaven it isn’t Alcèe Arobin” (Chopin 95). My assumption is that the doctor suspected that Edna was in love with another man, and hoped it wasn’t Arobin, or else it could harm her reputation. He was right that she was in love, and right again on the fact that she did have an affair with him, but he was not the one she was in love with.
Honestly, I’m only making these connections now, as I reread some of the highlighted parts. When I first read this passage, I wondered what Arobin (whom I thought I’d never heard of before page 95) could possibly have done. Were there any obvious and relevant connections that you missed as well?
In terms of story and plot progression, I appreciated the role that Arobin played, and the consequences of his actions on Edna. However, similar to what I feel regarding certain super villains, I didn’t quite adore his character as a person. Out of curiosity, are there any Arobin-Edna ‘shippers’ here?
Pg. 47- 105
Edna is losing control. Rather, she has already lost control. I feel that she has entered this peculiar dream of hers, and that reality will provide a most brutal wake-up. A very dream-like quote is; “When she and Robert stepped into Tonie’s boat, with the red lateen sail, misty spirit forms were prowling in the shadows among the reeds, and upon the water were phantom ships, speeding to cover” (Chopin 52). The quote gives shows a dream world at the same time seeming rather ominous. This might be some sort of foreshadowing about the evils that come with living in a dream for too long. You might be hunted by shadows that even phantom ships run from. Edna really should moderate a little bit, or at least carry out the effects of her “awakening” gradually. This is too much of a shock for all of those near her. I feel a little bad for everybody, even her husband, which I think I hate a little bit. He thinks he’s right about everything and treats her as property. It’s vile.
I absolutely agree that Edna is entirely right to pursue her “awakening”, defy her husband, and fight for what she wants, however it is very dangerous. Her change was very abrupt, she suddenly learned how to “swim”, and those around her are rather shocked. Plus, this is extremely unconventional for that time. She relies on her husband financially, and socially as well, I am sure. If a husband decides to publicly show off his mistress to the high society then his wife will be looked down on. Men had much more power at the time, and it was thoroughly abused. Luckily, today women are at the top of the social hierarchy. Coming back to the previous topic, Edna is either behaving bravely or foolishly. I know that I would not be brave enough to do all that Edna has done given her circumstances and the time period she lives in. Even if I did have this sudden change in belief and philosophy, if I suddenly experienced my “awakening”, I would probably not give up my routine. Of course, I have never been in that position. I suppose it must be hard constantly trying to suppress yourself. But then, I would act in front of my peers and take a lover or something. Maybe kill my husband so that I could do whatever I wanted. No, I wouldn’t do that.
By the way, what’s with the lovers and the lady in black? Who are they and what do they represent? Do the lovers represent the idealist view of Edna? Is it an allusion to Edna and Robert, if circumstances had been different? Or is it because Kate Chopin will make the lovers hate each other later, conveying the message that love cannot happen? The “lady in black” always seems to be with the lovers, whenever one is mentioned, you can find the other soon after. Is she the sadness to the lovers’ happiness? I find it very interesting how these characters are not given names, instead being referred to as “the lovers” and “the lady in black”. “The lovers were profiting by the general conversation on Mexico to speak in whispers of matters which they rightly considered were interesting to no one but themselves. The lady in black had once received a pair of prayer-beads of curious workmanship from Mexico, with very special indulgence attached to them, but she had never been able to ascertain whether the indulgence extended outside the Mexican border… And she begged that Robert would interest himself, and discover, if possible, whether she was entitled to the indulgence accompanying the remarkably curious Mexican prayer-beads” (Chopin 57). Do the Mexican prayer-beads have any deeper meaning to them or was this only so that the “lady in black” would have something to say?
Edna reminds me of the girl in “The Black Swan” acted out by Natalie Portman, I think her name was Nina. I’m not making a reference that Edna will become evil like she turned out, but rather that both are losing control, and that that loss of control might just consume them and kill them. Both changed drastically, shocking those around them, and gave up on what society wanted them to do. They went from one polar end to the other. Edna was extremely constrained, unable to swim, and then completely let go of that self-restraint, changing completely. Nina used to be an incredibly good girl, living with her mother and being borderline angelic, and then she became the kind of person to do drugs, hurt her mother, and try to kill someone. Nina died, I hope Edna does not experience incredible hardship like her. I believe it was worse for Nina though; at least Edna is being herself and is happy, Nina was just obsessed with being perfect.
Audrey I agree with you about the lovers and the lady in black, in fact my first blog entry was about them and what they represent. Clearly the lovers are a constant remainder of what is lacking in Edna's marriage. The affection, intimacy and fervor that is no longer, well that was never present in her relationship with Léonce. I think it was interesting how you mentioned that maybe the lady in black represents the lovers misfortune. My initial impression of her was that she represented solitude. Somehow her morbid vibe made me feel like she represented Edna's detachment to her surroundings and even her own life. I did not notice that she is mostly mentioned before or after the lovers are mentioned so perhaps it does have something to do with the sadness of the lovers.
"Hidden Between the Lines"
Gabby, you mentioned a story Doctor Mandelet told at the dinner table, which had the intention of instructing Edna, for he offers a fable of a woman’s love returning to her husband. That is why she demonstrated lack of response. The tale about adultery was actually told by Edna herself, which led me to notice how each person’s story told that evening was, at some extent, indicating the teller’s personality. Edna’s father for instance, the fact he mentioned a “somber episode of those dark and bitter days, in which he had acted a conspicuous part and always formed a central figure” (Chopin 94-95), along with having kept his tile as Colonel, indicate his rough, strict personality. Leoncé told a very superficial occurrence of a traditional and jolly childhood. As for Edna, she describes a story of what would be her ideal resolution for the situation she was currently in. It can be noticed that her tale contains many features of the day she spent with Robert at Madame Antoine’s. Additionally, note how in this passage: “They could feel the hot breath of the Southern night; they could hear the long sweep of the pirogue through the glistening moonlight water, the beating of birds’ wings, rising startled from among the reeds in the salt-water pools; they could see the faces of the lovers, pale, close together, rapt in oblivious forgetfulness, drifting into the unknown” (Chopin 95) the sensuality in her descriptions indicate her feelings, and her caution with the details ,but not the ending, demonstrate the she does not care where her love for Robert will take her as long as their path is romantically beautiful and full of sentiment. In sequence, shortly after he left, Doctor Mandelet made a comment to himself saying “I hope it isn’t Arobin […] I hope to heave it isn’t Alcée Arobin” which really got me wondering. I literally stopped my reading for a couple of moments and was able to remember a previous passage, the one Samantha brought up in her post, where Robert mentioned this man to Madame Ratignolle. He said “Now if I were like Arobin – you remember Alcée Arobin and that story of the consul’s wife at Biloxi?” (Chopin 27), which I also thought was rather strange, as writers don’t usually mention random names without any explanation whatsoever. Finally when Alcée Arobin began demonstrating interest towards Edna, it became clear that he is a player and she will definitely give in to his charms, known her current and delicate situation, where her sensuality is skin deep and thoughts and comments like “[…] it seemed to her as if her life were passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled” (Chopin 99) have become constant. Which leads me to something else I was able to catch up during this few selected chapters: Edna’s mind is always changing. Her feelings are completely irregular, sometimes she is plain happy, and others she is completely miserable. Does anyone think this constant change indicates something about Edna or her future actions?
Samantha, I also put great effor into understanding the quote where Edna said “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself” (Chopin 64) and all I could come up with was that in this case “myself” has all to do with her new sense of independence, the newness of the world she has just recently discovered, as if she would never give that up to live a life of blindness to submission. The fact that she is talking to Madame Ratignolle, who is not able to comprehend her statement as well, also indicates that this is what Edna meant, for Madame Ratignolle is the traditional wife who truly loves devoting her soul and who she is to the good of her family, even if she does not notice it.
Oh and, Marcia, I also noticed the constant mentioning of the lovers and the lady in black, and I realized that every time, they were mentioned in sequence. Right after talking about the lovers, the lady in black was described to be nearby. Does this also have some meaning? Or was it just coincidental, for they are not mentioned again after Edna’s departure back home?
Now, I know this may sound a little silly and weird but, there were passages in the selected chapters where Edna actually reminded me of Bella, in Breaking Dawn Part 2. Right after Leoncé and her children leave, Edna scrutinizes the house she has always lived in as if she has never been there before. Similarly, the first moments of the movie focus on Bella’s awakening as a vampire, and as soon as this happens she begins the house she knows so well, and the world, with a different perspective. They both become attentive to details they had never noticed before. Along with that, Bella is now also str
(Here's the rest)
Along with that, Bella is now also stronger and more independent, without the necessity of a male figure to protect her like before, just like Edna after her flourish. Bella also became more alive for those who were watching her exactly in the same manner Dr. Mandelet described Edna’s new self, as a woman who “seemed palpitant with the forces of life. Her speech was warm and energetic. There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal walking up the sun” (Chopin 94).
A Swap in Personalities
pg. 47- 105
After every chapter I read, I believe that Edna is losing her mind. First, when she cried over Robert's departure to Mexico City in front of everyone, meaning that she made no attempt on hiding her surprise and despair from no one, as she shows in this quote: "How can a person start off from Grand Isle to Mexico at a moment's notice, as if he were going over to Klein's or to the wharf or down to the beach? (Chopin 55)." Then, when she throws her wedding band on the floor and stamps on it and smashes a vase on the hearth. "She wanted to destroy something. The crash and clatter were what she wanted to hear (Chopin 71)." And at last, when she starts to have feelings for another man that is either Leónce, or Robert. In fact, it is Alcée Arobin, a man she met at the racetrack, and started spending some alone time with him. "She wanted something to happen - something, anything; she did not know what. She regretted that she had not made Arobin stay a half-hour to talk over the horses with her (Chopin 101)." Within time, Edna is starting to act insanely. Actually, she is starting to create a rebellion inside her head. Something that at a certain point, she won’t be able to stop it, while she is alive. Edna is even pity for the women who lives a life obeying their husbands and taking care of the house and children, which was a normal thing to do at that time. She is taking this “awakening” of hers too abruptly and seriously.
Another point that I want to make is that I believe that Leónce is a very lenient and tolerant husband with Edna. If it were any other man in his place witnessing Edna’s change in personality, he would slap her or curse her, which were “normal” things to do to women at that time. But, why him? Why is he like this, if the men at that time were all cruel and indifferent? For example, when Mrs. Pontellier decided to leave her house without giving any excuse to no one in the house, as he said, “ Well, I hope you left some suitable excuse,’ said her husband, somewhat appeased, as he added a dash of cayenne pepper to the soup (Chopin 68).” As you can see, he was not even paying his entire attention to the serious talk he was trying to have with his wife or mistreating her. Another event that made me come up with this conclusion was when Edna’s father was trying to convince her on going to her sister’s wedding, and she was refusing on going, and Leónce was there observing their discussion as if he had nothing to do with it. Edna’s father even said, “You are too lenient, too lenient by far, Leónce,’ asserted the Colonel. ‘Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife. Take my word for it. (Chopin 98).” After that quarrel from his father-in-law, the only thing that he did was going after a doctor and asking for his help, due to his concern with his wife’s attitude towards him, everyone and everything. “You know I have a quick temper, but I don’t want to quarrel or be rude to a woman, especially my wife; yet I’m driven to it, and feel like ten thousand devils after I’ve made a fool of myself […] (Chopin 88).” It feels like Edna is the man of the relationship, and Leónce, the woman.
During that Century, no husband had the worry of “being rude” to their wives. Verily, women at that time were objectified. They were worthless. Until today, this concept towards women still exists. Islam is one of the few religions that oppress women around the world. They believe that Allan, their god, felt that a man’s testimony in court should be valued twice as much as a women’s. That women should lower their gaze around men, so they do not look them in the eye. And that man has the permission to take women as sex slaves outside of their marriage. Well, I don’t get it. I don’t understand what goes on in a person’s head to make them willingness to mistreat some and hurt them. Why some men, back at the time and today, have no respect towards women, if they need women to life? I mean, woman is the only reproductive sex, and without them, men would not even exist.
The remodeled Edna
As has been noted by some of my peers, from page 47 to page 105, Edna’s change is utter and bold, “and she tried to discover where in this summer had been different from any and every other summer of her life. She could realize that she herself - her present self- was in some way different from the other self. That she was seeing with different eyes and making the acquaintance of new conditions in herself that colored and changed her environment, she did not yet suspect” (Chopin 54). This description of how Edna feels about herself explicitly shows how Edna is no longer the same and serves as an introduction for the following pages. It is as if the subsequent pages provided examples this thesis, like body paragraphs with evidence that we write in English class. By telling some moments of Edna’s life, the narrator illustrates Edna’s transformation and how the others react to such; Mr. Pontellier thinks she has some mental disturbance and comments, “She’s odd, she’s not like herself. […] Her whole attitude - toward me and everybody and everything - has changed” (Chopin 88). On the other hand, her new self attracted and pleased Alcée Arobin, who demonstrates and declares strong emotions for her.
Something that I would like to point out is that after secretly enjoying the situation with Arobin, she feels guilty and adulterous not because of her husband, but of Robert, who she missed terribly. This indicates that she has no regards or feels to have no duty towards Mr. Pontellier and that her emotions for Robert are not merely superficial. Meanwhile, the narration of how Edna feels toward Arobin made me think of ‘passion’, but not love. Maybe, Edna’s feeling toward Arobin is more physical. Any one agrees? Also, why didn’t Robert defend himself or didn’t provide an excuse when Edna was madly speaking to him on page 60? On page 64, when Edna says “I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself”, why she means by her life but not self (Chopin 64)? Furthermore, Mr. Pontellier and Monsieur Ratignolle respectively comment on Edna’s careles appearance on pages 72 and 75, and then Madame Lebrun, her son and Mademoiselle Reisz tell her how splendid she looks on pages 82 and 84. Does this shift in her appearance demonstrates her shifts in mood as described on page 78? What did Robert’s letter say and why didn’t Chopin reveal it to the readers?
Connection: A passage in the book that reminded me of something that I’m doing right now was the quote I used in the beginning, “and she tried to discover where in this summer had been different from any and every other summer of her life” (Chopin 54). The repetitive use of the word “summer” recalls the program that I am doing at Brown University, which is “Summer@Brown”. Furthermore, the uniqueness of the Edna’s summer is to some extent similar to my distinct experience of living a world very different then what I am used to. Another passage that I made a connection to was on pages 98 and 99 when Edna ruminates about time. Her thoughts about “life passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled” and “deceived by fresh promises” regarding youth resembles Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”, which’s theme is time (Chopin 98,99).
Sleeping Beauty No More
Chapters XIII - XXV
Throughout these chapters Edna lives in a certain torment. Given that she is not used to this new style of being, she lives in conflicts with her old self. One example of such would be in chapter XVII when Edna loses control over herself and "taking off her wedding ring, flung it upon the carpet. when she saw it lying there, she stamped her heel upon it, striving to crush it." (Chopin 71). Here I would dare say there is also some symbolism involved, the wedding ring representing her marriage and her heel is the awakening. I can confirm such late in chapter XXV where "Her husband seemed to her now like a person whom she had married without love as an excuse." (Chopin 104). Throughout chapters XIII and XXV Edna's rebel outbursts only intensify, beginning with the breaking of the vase and the failed attempt to crush the ring, and ending with the realization that she does not love her husband, the later of course being the most severe. Another emotional outburst, though not of anger, was when Edna after countless repressing of feelings let it all go, as stated "Edna was sobbing, just as she had wept one midnight at the Grand Isle when strange, new voices awoke in her." (Chopin 86), where she realizes that she misses Robert greatly and truly likes him, and not her husband, and the former is confirmed when pointed out "She did no mean her husband; she was thinking of Robert Lebrun" (Chopin 104)
If I where to relate this piece to another one, in the matter of context, it could possibly be "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, where Raskolnikov "awakens" and decides to try something new, and after such is tormented by the experiences he had. Both characters, Raskolnikov and Edna, here stand on top of the fence, trying to decide what is right and what is wrong, and whether should they do the wrong thing, if it would make them happy, Raskolnikov's case being the murder, and Edna's being adultery.
Does Edna have feelings towards Alcée Arobin?
Why did Robert hide his feelings personally? Was it because of Mademoiselle Ratignolle's warning? (When she said in Grand Isle, stay away from Edna)
pg. 47 - 105
As I could read book, identifying the true meaning of its value, it came something to my mind. The contrast between Robert and Edna really caught my attention. Both demonstrates their contrasting attitudes by one another, such as Robert never addressing Edna directly by her first name, replacing it by the word "dear". As if he had brought to his mind that Edna is Léonce possession. On the other hand, Edna calls Robert directly. Another contrast that brought my attention is between Edna and Adele. Edna worries about her lifestyle and her love life making her, far away from being the perfect mother idealized by society. However, Adele is just unlike her in this aspect. Chopin characterizes Adele as the ideal woman, inside society standards in that époque. For last, one other thing they caught my attention, was when Edna forgets on writting her a regular letter to her husband. I believe that it might be a motif, and isn’t ironic how she remembered that she forgot something? “In the middle of the night she remembered that she had forgotten to write her regular letter to her husband;and she decided to do so next day and tell him about her afternoon at the Jockey Clun.” (Chopin 102). Though then, as I could get a deep analysis of the plot and notice that Robert was leaving Edna to Mexico, for business reasons, I thought that he was being selfish from his part. At first Edna was shocked and suffering a lot with this idea imposed in her mind. “As she seated herself and was about to begin to eat her soup, which had been served when she entered the room, several persons indormed her simultaneously that Robert was going to Mexico.” (Chopin 55) Still, for every story theres always a game changer. With her sexual needs not desired since Robert left her, she met Alcée. Both went a long understanding each other, leading up to sexual intercourse. Right at this point of the plot, I knew Edna's true feeling for Robert. I could understand that Edna's guilt wasn’t over Léonce, but over Robert. She believed she was was being unfaithful to Robert even though they aren’t married. “What would he think? She did not mean her husband; she was thinking of robert Lebrun.”(Chopin 104). Although he wasn't their, he full-filled her mind anyway. Thats what I like to call the true love. This event, reminded me a lot of this stories where the parents leave their kids alone at home, leading up to the kids do something stupid, that they would never do if their parents were their.
Is Robert trying to protect his manhood by demonstrating such a little amount of feeling?
Is there any true connection between Edna and Alcée?
Whats Robert objective on hiding his feelings away from Edna?
How can Edna's feelings be identified?
Am I the only one that has been desperately longing for Robert to return? Page after page I found myself searching for his name, but nothing! Quite disappointing to be honest. During the first few chapters Edna's reaction to his absence was normal. She looked at old photographs, revisited the places he used to go and was constantly talking and thinking about him. "Everyone seemed to take for granted that she missed him." (Chopin 63) I was fascinated with this quote for many reasons. Edna is experiencing very strong feelings for Robert, feelings she confessed she never had for her own husband, and yet no one seems to acknowledge her suffering. Why would anyone acknowledge her feelings if they don't even know they exist? And even if they knew I hardly think they would care. Edna had grown accustomed to Roberts presence, she grew found of him "her whole existence was dulled, like a faded garment which seems to be no longer worth wearing" when he left. (Chopin 62) But why would anyone care if a married woman missed someone who wasn't even her lover, and why would a married woman want people to care about her feelings towards a man that is not her husband? Edna's feelings for Robert have intensified since he left. When she got carried away by Mr. Arobin her first concern was "what would Robert think?" Edna has lost control over herself, at first she started going out and acted upon her desires but then she started having outbursts, drastic mood changes and even refused to go to her sister's wedding. I don't think Robert is driving her insane but her feelings are taking control over her. She seems lost, tries to start things but never finishes, seeks comfort in people she isn't sure she even likes. Edna is looking for something, perhaps something that would give her life a purpose. Why does she want to become an artist? Why does she need Robert so desperately? Why isn't she content with her incredibly generous husband and her luxurious lifestyle?
I'm not such a Twilight fan so I am not sure in which of the movies the scene I will refer to is in but just follow along it doesn't make a difference. When Edward suddenly leaves Bella, much like Robert did with Edna, Bella unrealistically sits on a chair and stares out the window for months. She has nightmares and wakes up screaming and she walks around like a zombie until Jake "rescues" her. Edna is doing a similar thing, she goes up to her atelier and tries to paint but she only manages to do so when its sunny out and her mood is right, she had an outburst and tried to step on her wedding ring, and she often leaves her house to walk on the street (a little less zombie like because she actually has a destination).
Chapters 13-25 - Personality Change
As the novel by Kate Chopin goes on, the reader notices different shifts between Edna`s personality. In the middle of the service, Edna feels uneasy. “Another time she might have made an effort to regain her composure; but her one thought was to quit the stifling atmosphere of the church and reach the open air” (Chopin 36). Later on, Edna sleeps at Madame Antoine`s cot, and after awakening hours later, her personality shifts once more: “I wonder if Leonce will be uneasy!” (Chopin 38). In this single episode, Chopin demonstrates that Edna is becoming independent and enlightened, but she is still strongly attached to her husband. The reader notices that Edna is scared of her husband`s possible reaction and she doesn`t want to make him angry. As the novel progresses, the reader finds out that Edna is getting attracted to Robert: “Robert`s voice was not pretentious. It was musical and true” (Chopin 41). The reader starts to wonder if Robert and Edna will eventually get together, but this thought is rapidly eliminated when Robert decides to move to Mexico. This decision crushes Edna and leaves “her eyes brimming with tears” (Chopin 46). Once the summer season ends, the Pontelliers go back to their house on Esplanade Street in New Orleans. It doesn`t take long for Edna and her husband to argue, which sparks Edna to do something she never did before: “In a sweeping passion she seized a glass vase from the table and flung it upon the tiles of the hearth. She wanted to destroy something” (Chopin 53). This act shows the reader that Edna is definitely fed up of her husband and won`t take his oppressive behavior any longer. When I read this part I immediately remembered many different scenes in movies where a man breaks a house object to express his anger. However, I have never read or seen a woman doing this at all, which probably suggests that Edna`s personality is now similar to a man`s. Her change is so ravishing that others are starting to notice, like Mr.Pontellier: “Her new and unexpected line of conduct completely bewildered him” (Chopin 57). He is so worried about her that he decides to consult the family physician. He believes that “she`s got some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women” (Chopin 66). I believe that this could be a foreshadow that Edna will play a major or minor role in the fight for women`s rights. At the end of this section, Edna meets Alcee Arobin at a horse race and “their talk [soon] grew familiar and confidential” (Chopin 77). This gives hope to the reader that Edna won`t end up by herself. Will she get involved with Arobin, or will the thought of infidelity speak louder? Will she keep her word and not take any more oppression from her husband or will she give up?
Blog Entry #2: Chapters XIII-XXV (13-25)
Basically up into this point Edna has felt uncomfortable in the life that she was leading, the social expectations do not fit her, and in this block of pages she stops trying to fit into that kind of life. Leonce believes that Edna is “is not like herself” (Chopin 88) but that could not be further from the truth. Edna has been born anew or better come to life. This part of the book shows her awakening and what that means to her and how it changes her life. Her sexual desires are not the only thing in her that was awakened. Edna’s artistic talents become one of the leading priorities in her life. She begins searching herself and more importantly discovering herself. One of the many things she learns is that she feels good in solitude and isolation. The more Edna comes into her own new skin the more her marriage deteriorates. She begins thinking of Robert in a romantic light and misses him tremendously after he leaves for Mexico. All this change in Edna and her life generates a lot of instability around her leading me to believe that her infatuation with Robert is a result of her trying to balance all this new and untraditional with something a little more traditional such as a woman leaning on a man.
Do I make a valid point, or am I overthinking things?
Edna’s relationship with Robert can be compared to that of a thirteen or fourteen year old girl with her first boyfriend. I believe that Edna is in love with the idea of Robert not actually with him. Edna is painting Robert out to be something better than he really is, just as a young girl does. So what does the idea Robert mean and represent? I believe it represent the new, the different and change something she desperately wants and in the process attaches to Robert.
“Spread your wings and fly away”
Chapters XIII-XXV (13-25)
The discoveries Edna found in herself are making her lose it bit. She feels attracted to Robert yet can’t understand why he distances himself. After Robert leaves, she becomes annoyed and misses him. Haven’t I heard the story of forbidden love somewhere else? They remember me of Romeo and Juliet, whose love is forbidden by the concepts of society. Juliet being forced to marry her cousin is similar to the way Edna married, empty and without love. When Adele suggest to Edna to stay more often with her husband during the evenings, she refused stating that they “wouldn’t have anything to say to each other” (Chopin 70). Edna’s personality change is noticed by everyone as they comment that “Some way she doesn’t seem like the same woman.” (Chopin 62). Her new dedication to art also shows that change since she starts to ignore her Tuesday receptions and defies her husband’s authority (he is losing control over her). When her father comes, he criticizes Leonce over his lack of control and affirms that “Authority, coercion are what is needed” (Chopin 72). The disturbing Edna causes him takes him to see a friend because he believed she had a mental illness, which shows he is lacking confidence over his wife. This proves that, as other ladies mentioned, Leonce is somehow the best husband, since he tolerates his wife to do such things. At that point, if he were any other men, he would probably have beaten Edna until she submitted herself to him. Although he gets angry sometimes, he really is very worried about the way his wife is acting and prefers to resolve the matter without alarming Edna. As much as I don’t want to, this awakening is making me dislike Edna even more. She has her own ideas of how women should be but she makes it sound like what other women believe is wrong. She finds That Adele’s obedient behavior toward her husband distasteful and feels distant from the Adele she knew, which shows she disapproves of all the women who believe that is the right way for a women to be.
The departure of her family relaxed her, which isn’t of a great surprise, but I believe that this “vacation” did her good since she became more optimistic and sociable. The thing she wasn’t expecting was Alcée Arobin. From the moment the doctor muttered “I hope it isn't Arobin” (Chopin 72) I kept asking; who is this guy? When the book mentioned she was going to meet him, while she was in her “alone” period, I just knew something was going to happen between them. He fun in romances is the rivalry between lovers, so I ask; how would Robert react if he discovered about him? Would they fight for the lady? Would she decide to abandon her feelings to not cause problems? I wanted to answer questions like this and it’s what pushed me the most to read the book.
Estranged for her so-called "vulgar" and "morbid" work, Kate Chopin was a writer far ahead of her time. Click here to visit the Kate Chopin International Society.