Pontellier, transforms herself from an obedient housewife to a person
who is alive with strength of character and emotions which she no
longer has to repress. This metamorphosis is shaped by her surroundings.
Just as her behavior is more shocking and horrifying because of
her position in society, it is that very position which causes her
to feel restrained and makes her yearn to rebel.
Adele Ratignolle is Edna's close friend and confidante, but the
two women are nothing alike. Adele is the perfect housewife and
mother; she is the epitome of what a Creole woman and mother ought
to be. She lives her life for her children, always being sure that
they are properly cared for, clothed, and educated. Unlike Adele
whose life is fulfilled through loving and caring for her children,
Edna is "fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way" They
are not enough to justify her life.
Adele could not understand how Edna could say that she "would never
sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone" Edna's being
is taking on a new importance in her life. She is starting to realize
just how important it is to be true to herself. She has never done
that before. She went along with the way things were supposed to
be, holding her socials and tending to her house until she became
aware that she needed more from her life.
marriage to Leonce is safe, but there is no passion or excitement.
"She grew fond of her husband, realizing with some unaccountable
satisfaction that no trace of passion or excessive and fictitious
warmth colored her affection, thereby threatening its dissolution".
While this lack of emotion is enough to satisfy Edna for the majority
of her marriage, after she begins to allow her true self to come
forth, she feels trapped and seeks a way to escape. She realizes
that she needs intrigue and flavor in her marriage, especially,
in her life. Leonce cannot understand that she does not fit the
mold of the typical Creole woman. Her lifestyle is suffocating her.
The person whom Edna truly admires is Mademoiselle Reiz, who is
a brilliant pianist. Her talent is somewhat lost on the other people
on the island. They cannot appreciate her artistry, as does Edna
because Mademoiselle Reiz does not fit their idea of what a proper
woman should be; she is eccentric and bold. Her music touches Edna
to the very core of her being. Something inside her is stirred,
and she feels alive like never before in her life.
Edna respects Mademoiselle Reiz because she has the courage to be
different. It is Mademoiselle's music that starts to "awaken" Edna
and allows her to see the beauty and passion in life.
An amazing transformation takes place in Edna throughout the course
of a few months. The people with whom she interacts and the culture
in which she is submersed play a significant role in her "awakening."
Edna continues to feel trapped in the restricted environment and
ultimately commits suicide to leave the world that will not let
her leave her traditional role. Romanticism is evident as the novel
ends and Edna completely rejects the Victorian ways. With Chopin's
ending, she creates an idea that her society cannot accept. Edna
tried to maintain her role as long as she could, but it became too
much for her, and she needed to do the best thing. In her mind,
that meant killing herself in the water that had no boundaries and
is able to break away from the restraining world of Adele and Leonce
in which she will never find her place. Stirred by the magic and
intrigue of Mademoiselle Reiz's world, she finds the strength to
reach for that, which is real for her, and she allows her true being