The Awakening introduced feminist ideas that were contrary to late nineteenth century beliefs. In addition, the novel, and specifically the actions of Edna Pontellier, challenged deeply held notions and ideas of the social elite. Edna Pontellier challenged social norms by refusing to assimilate into Creole society. For example, she rejected traditional norms of family by refusing to attend her sister’s wedding. For this reason many research papers fail to explore the reasons behind Edna Pontellier’s actions and instead, while others explored them solely through their social context in her relationships with others.
Many research papers on The Awakening describe Edna Pontellier in terms of a woman attempting to escape the bondage imposed upon women by motherhood and marriage. Although many of these term papers view Kate Chopin's Edna Pontellier as fundamentally flawed, they do attempt to explore the reasons for her behavior. For instance, your term paper can describe Edna Pontellier as a woman determined to live life on her own terms after her enlightening trip to the Grand Isle resort. She purposely attempts to destroy the symbols of her bondage when she, “stopped, and taking off her wedding ring, flung it upon the carpet [and] stamped her heel upon it, striving to crush it”. Later in the novel Edna Pontellier confirms her unwillingness to bend to the wishes of any man when she tells Robert, “I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy, she is yours,’ I should laugh at both of you”. In this passage Edna Pontellier speaks her mind, something few women dared to do in nineteenth century America.