The Awakening - Analysis of Edna

Essay by 4NIC8High School, 12th grade March 2005

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1. "How many years have I slept?" she inquired. "The whole island seems changed. A new race of beings must have sprung up, leaving only you and me as past relics. How many ages ago did Madame Antoine and Tonie die? And when did our people from Grand Isle disappear from the earth?" (Chapter XIII)

This poem reflects Edna's desire to be isolated with Robert and break free from the restrictions of the society that surrounds them. At the same time, her fantasy that she and Robert have already been left alone as "past relics" shows the reader the way that her new self-awareness has dangerously separated her from reality. In the mental aspect, Edna is already living in her own isolated, mythical world. She has not yet fully acknowledged her feelings for Robert, nor does she understand the effect that her love for him will have on her life in the real world.

The conditions that Edna describes in this daydream are the only ones in which a relationship between Edna and Robert would be possible. As long as they live within society, their love is unable to overcome social convention and tradition.

2. "But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over confidence. She could have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water." (Chapter X)

This poem reflects Edna's initial awakening. Previously, even with numerous attempts by others to teach her, Edna could not swim without the knowledge of there being a hand to catch her if she began to sink. On this evening though, Edna swims...