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Sexual Fulfillment in Chopin's Awakening Essays

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Society keeps order, allows for advancement, and gives humanity a good face. It also imposes morals, roles, and limits a person's potential development. If someone wishes to reach beyond what society expects of them, they must cast aside social restrictions. Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, feels the urge to cast off the veil society burdens her with and live as she chooses to. The driving factor behind her desire to awaken is her lack of sexual fulfillment. She lives her life following conduct becoming of a woman who marries into the Creole elite of New Orleans. While her husband, Léonce, adores her, she does not truly love him and their relationship appears platonic. Robert, a young paramour, woos Edna and she finds herself with wants and desires. Edna later experiments with a known womanizer named Alceé, and uncovers more passions. While Edna fails to fully come into her own in society, she awakens her sexuality through her experiences with the aforementioned men.

 

Léonce appears to be an ideal husband for the turn of the nineteenth century. He adores his wife Edna, buys her affectionate gifts, and cares for her general well being. When other women see his treatment of Edna, they believe him to be a perfect husband. Edna, however, sees him as being distant and reserved. Though he gives her material freedom, he sees her as a possession. He provides little emotional support and cannot fill any of Edna's rising sexual needs. "Her husband seemed to her now like a person whom she had married without love as an excuse" (77). Léonce proves to be the father figure for Edna. He pampers her and takes care of all her physical needs. However, he is unable to rea...


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...ng in their relationship, but cannot deny something that her newly awakened sexuality craves. It is her way of rebelling against society and fulfilling many suppressed wants and desires. It leaves her empty, however, as this passion did not come from love.

 

Affairs and liaisons are not necessary parts of life, but for Edna Pontellier they help awaken her true sexual desires, passions, and needs. Her husband provides the needed cover for society and helps her to realize what she is lacking in life. Robert supplies the love, the passion, and the fairy tale romance. He shows her what love is and elicits her childish infatuation. Alcée brings out Edna's id, her want for sex. He allows her to show her animalism that craves sexual attention. Through her experiences with these three men, Edna fully awakens her sexuality.

 

 


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