A Grown Woman with the Mind of an Adolescent

Essay by twinkle82University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Mrs. Edna Pontellier is a woman without an identity, and a woman without any fidelity to either her relationships or her ideals. This, of course, means that she has not successfully completed Erikson's fifth stage of psychosocial development, the stage of identity versus identity confusion. Edna is a grown woman who has the mind of an adolescent, and this eventually leads to her downfall as a person and the premature termination of her life.

Erikson's fifth stage of psychosocial development takes place during adolescence, and, as previously stated, is the stage of identity versus identity confusion. During this stage of development, teenagers begin to sense their individuality and examine "who they are as individuals." At this point adolescents begin to realize that they are the ones who have the control over their lives and their futures, but along with this realization comes a sense of responsibility for one's own actions and the awareness that decisions may have long-term consequences.

These realizations aid in bringing about identity confusion, which is defined by an individual's internal conflict about who or she actually is. Identity confusion is often caused by a discrepancy between a person's ideal self-image and his or her perceived self-image. The discrepancy leads to potential feelings of unworthiness, which may cause an adolescent to adapt a negative identity. Once a negative identity is developed, teenager usually deal with it in one of two ways. The first method of coping is the employment of the ego-defense mechanism known as projection. In this case, the individual projects his or her negative image onto others by viewing them as the ones who are bad and unworthy. The second way of coping with a negative identity is by embracing it and searching for an identity in countercultural movements that adhere to values which are...