The following sample essay on: ” Selffulfilment “. Self-fulfilment is defined as the act of fulfilling ones ambitions and desires. In order for one to achieve self-fulfillment, they have to fully understand their personal values and purpose in life. The path towards such may not always be easy which is why many seek advice and guidance from the people around them.
In Kate Chopins The Awakening, the other characters in association with Edna Pontellier are under the influence of the social conventions, which hold Edna back from accomplishing her ultimate goal to become free.
Throughout Edna Pontelliers journey to self-fulfilment, she is torn between her various relationships with the men in her life, which creates a mental and physical struggle as she undergoes her sexual awakening.
Robert Lebrun is one of the most important characters in the novel as his actions greatly influence the main protagonist . Roberts presence awakens Edna from a life of compulsion and sorrow but his absence throughout the novel also puts her in an impassioned state of solitude.
Ednas awakening initially originates from her growing love for Robert. Roberts efforts in teaching Edna how to swim play an important role in the novel. Their effect can best be seen in chapter 10 when Edna swims on her own for the first time.
A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before.
The use of the word control shows that Edna is beginning to forge her own path in life as she now has power over her actions. At the beginning of the novel, Edna was best characterized as a puppet whose strings were controlled by society. The word exultation creates a sense of exhilaration since Edna is fond of the idea that she is no longer bound by societal conventions. At the end of the quote, it states where no woman had swum before. which signifies Ednas growing ability to swim. Since Ednas swimming capabilities are a symbol of her understandings of her desires, Roberts ability to help shows his attempts to enable her to further explore a path towards independence and freedom. By swimming to where no woman had swum before, Edna is trying to achieve a goal that is not obtained by many, which is to become independent which she is doing so with the help of Robert. This then becomes a mental struggle for her as the path towards such goal is very unclear and obscured. Another instance where Robert creates a mental struggle for Edna is with his partial disappearance from her life which brought her sadness as she believed that he was the only person who truly understood her feelings and thoughts. This is best exemplified at the beginning of chapter 16 where Mademoiselle Reisz talks to Edna about Roberts departure to Mexico and how it impacts her mentally.
Roberts going had some way taken the brightness, the colour, the meaning out of everything. The conditions of her life were in no way changed, but her whole existence was dulled, like a faded garment which seems to be no longer worth wearing. (Chopin 77)
The words the meaning out of everything suggests that the absence of Robert from Ednas life has removed her purpose from this world. The presence of Robert, therefore, gives Edna motivation to move forward in life, as his company allows her to achieve her goals. The use of the simile at the end the quote further establishes the mental struggle that Robert creates for her. In this simile, Ednas dulled existence is being compared to a faded garment. The words faded garment symbolize the idea that without Robert her life is no longer filled with excitement and joy. This creates a distressing tone since Robert is the only person who truly understands her feelings and desires and without him she feels very alone. This foreshadows the ending as well because, after Roberts last disappearance, Edna feels very detached from the world which ultimately contributes to her death.
With the absence of Roberts presence and influence, Alcee Arobin was able to help Edna explore her sexual side and satisfy her physical desires. This creates a struggle for her after their affair, as it makes her feel impetuous because the one she is truly in love with is Robert. This is well established in chapter 28 where Edna is experiencing a feeling of guilt and sadness after her encounter with Arobin at the pigeon house.
Edna cried a little that night after Arobin left her. It was only one phase of the multitudinous emotions which had assailed her. There was with an overwhelming feeling of irresponsibility. (Chopin 140)
At the beginning of the quote, Chopin demonstrates Ednas feelings towards her experience with Arobin. Edna feels very unhappy with what had happened that night and is experiencing various waves of emotions. This is due to the fact that she is torn between staying faithful to the one she truly loves, or giving in to her carnal desires for the physical passion that she so lacks and desperately needs. The use of the word irresponsible suggests that Edna feels as what she has done is questioning her ever-growing love for Robert. Even though Edna and Robert are not in a well-established relationship, Edna feels as if she has committed adultery. This further develops Ednas trait of being impulsive as she lets her desires and emotions take over her actions which lead her towards a path of obstacles and mental challenges.
Throughout the novel, Edna Pontellier faces many mental and physical struggles as her relationships with the men in her life develop. Roberts presence and influence, Arobins ability to satisfy Ednas physical desires, and Leonces lack of understanding all contribute to Ednas journey towards achieving self fulfilment. In different ways, these men have impacted Ednas life and state of mind but ultimately at the end, they similarly affect her last attempt at achieving freedom.
Arobins ability to fulfill Ednas physical desires give Edna moments of deep affection and joy which allow her to create new experiences. An example in the novel that demonstrates this aspect is when Chopin suggests that they have an affair at the end of chapter 27. This best exemplifies this Arobins ability as in this chapter, Arobin and Edna kiss after their conversation about Ednas understanding of the woman she is becoming. It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire. (Chopin 139) At the beginning of the quote, first kiss of her to which her nature had really responded establishes the idea that Edna was not in a loving marriage with her husband because her first kiss with Leonce should have given her that sentiment as many individuals feel this way with their future spouse. The flaming torch at the end of the quote is juxtaposed with Arobins ability to help Edna explore her sexual awakening. A torch is often used as a method of guidance through the dark as its light reveals the path. The kiss is associated with the flaming torch as it allowed Edna to gain a better understanding of her physical needs and become closer to achieving her desires.
Leonce Pontelliers inability to recognize Ednas awakening and understand her inner desires leads to conflict between the two, which creates many struggles for Edna. This is evident in Leonces frustration on Ednas neglection of her role as a mother and a wife. In this scene, Leonce is talking to Edna about the reality that Edna is spending more time on her paintings than taking care of her children and the household.
It seems to me the utmost folly for a woman at the head of a household, and the mother of children, to spend in an atelier days which would be better employed contriving for the comfort of her family. (Chopin 95)
The use of the word folly displays Leonces irritation as it shows that he believes Ednas decision to spend time away from her family and husband is an unconventional act. As women in the Victorian Era were known to obey and fulfil their husbands desires, Leonces reaction is justified as he believes that Edna should be working towards his satisfaction and not against his command. This then helps to create an absurd tone throughout the quote. To spend in an atelier days which would be better employed reveals Leonce lack of ability to acknowledge the true purpose of the atelier. For Edna, this is an essential room, as in this room she can paint and spend time away from society. She sees art as a way of achieving freedom, as painting allows her to become expressive in addition to a way of self-assertion. Leonce sees this room as an excuse for Edna to escape from her motherly duties and furthermore serves no beneficial purposes to the family. Regardless of Leonces true nature or intent, it shows that instead of finding an elucidation to Ednas changes, he tries to hold her back from acquiring what she desires most.