The Awakening

This essay has a total of 815 words and 5 pages.

The Awakening


Suicide in The Awakening


What is suicide? "(Suicide is) the act of self-destruction by a person sound in mind and
capable of measuring his (or her) moral responsibility" (Webster 1705). "No one really
knows why human beings


commit suicide. Indeed, the very person who takes his (or her) own life may be least aware
at the moment of decision of the essence of his (or her) reasons and emotions for doing
so. At the outset, it can be said that a dozen individuals can kill themselves and "do"
(or commit) 12 psychologically different deeds" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 385). Suicide
is written about in a variety of novels, short stories, and movies. Suicide moves like an
undercurrent in the sea of themes of The Awakening. The possibility of suicide and even
the idea of death darkens the story, making Edna's emotional ups and downs dangerous - her
occasional misery leads her to subconsciously think of suicide. She holds the hopelessness
at bay by moving out and


getting her own apartment, while trying to find a man who will accept her, but in the end she succumbs.

Edna's closest physical brush with death occurs one night at the beach, when the summer
residents decide to take a midnight swim. Despite having had a hard time learning to swim,
she realizes her ability and swims farther out than she ever had before. She overestimates
her power and almost doesn't make it back. She has a "quick vision of death". The
experience scares her, but she has tested her limits and survived the sea for a while.
Metaphorically, she has come close to death but resisted it.


Falling asleep can be associated with the idea of death as well. Whenever Edna falls
asleep, it is noted in the story; across the bay at church and the first night once her
husband has left are examples. Each time there is a suggestion of drifting off to sleep
and never waking up. When she is across the bay, once she wakes up, she likens her nap to
a hundred years' sleep. However, each time Edna does awaken; it is only at the very end
when she finally drifts away. She could have chosen sleeping pills as her method of death,
but she returns to the beach because of its memories of the summer, and the men in her
life. Her near-death experience in the summer left an impression on her that influences
her choice of escape from life.


Throughout the story, Edna struggles to free herself. Leonce Pontellier tries to hold Edna
down, wanting her to be a mother and a housewife, when she knows she is not like that. Her
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