The Awakening: Edna's Suicide

             What is suicide? Webster defines suicide as, “The act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally” (1156). Throughout The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, the main character Edna Pontellier struggles vigorously to escape the shackles of society. With the final realization that she will never be entirely free, Edna takes her life. Some may view Edna’s death as her final victory as she breaks the restraints of society. However, considering Edna’s state of mind, suicide is not her victory but rather her surrender. Therefore, Edna Pontellier’s death is suicide.
             Depression causes suicide. Mental anguish gives rise to erratic, impulsive behavior. The first incident in which Edna's torment is illustrated occurs when she returns from checking on her child whom Leonce, her husband, suspects feverish. Wandering outside, Edna observes, “The tears came so fast to Mrs. Pontellier's eyes that the damp sleeve of her peignoir no longer served to dry them…. Turning, she thrust her face, steaming and wet, into the bend of her arm, and went on crying there, not caring any longer to dry her face, her eyes, her arms. She could not have told why she was crying" (654). In this passage, Edna experiences great sorrow, yet she does not know why. Edna admits, "There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why, - when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation" (691). Mood swings result in frustration and social isolation. It is clear that Edna does not know where these feelings of hopelessness are stemming from. Edna describes her fits of anger as a dark “shadow”, coming from places unknown to her, imprisoning her mind and body with great suffering (654). Leonce first notices Edna’s mood swings which change like the tides

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The Awakening: Edna's Suicide. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:49, January 17, 2017, from