Driven to Despair: A Psychoanalytical Examination of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Rebecca J. Koll
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor
At the turn of the 20th Century in the Midwest, when Kate Chopin's The Awakening was written, the ideal woman was one who bore children, mothered them, and obeyed her husband. Women stayed at home and allowed men to make the decisions. Outlining the adulterous behavior of Edna Pontellier in this time period, Chopin attempts to fight this puritanical idea and shock society into understanding that women have just as much right to work outside of the home and make decisions as men have. Through Chopin's portrayal of Edna, however, she also portrays the idea that the restrictions placed upon women are damaging the mental health of those who dream of something more. This paper examines Edna's reactions to various emotional situations and explores the possibility that aside from simply protesting against the constraints placed upon her by society, Edna may have been suffering from a form of depression.
Keywords: The Awakening, Kate Chopin, 20th Century Midwest, Depression, Edna Pontellier
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Location: VH 1408