In Japan, we are more familiar with『A Doll's House』by Henrik Ibsen [1828〜1906] than『Awakening』by Kate Chopin[1850-1904], both deal with the independence of women. But the latter concentrates the sexual impulse of women, therefore accepted harsh criticism including the ban on to read when the book was published in 1899, I learned.
This time at my second reading ( my first reading, in Japanese version, was about 10 yeas ago), I carefully read the story as a scale, measuring my degree of feminism. I’m afraid myself to be called "sexist" as same as the men of 100 year ago if I denounce Mrs.Edna Pontellier. So I, a contemporary man, who got baptized by the second and third-wave feminism, can admit Mrs. Potellier’s desire of self-fulfilment, or, at least, must admit for.
But problem is whether Mrs. Potellier was really awakened or not. In my opinion her awakening is fully doubtful.
The story suggests that her awakening began when Edna loves Robert. Can, however, we evaluate the Edna’s love for Robert is a real love of adults? I think she only fancies one more dream after her younger love, to the cavalry, to the fianc'e of neighbor girl and to the tragedian. which was cut off by Leonce. It is too na've for 28 housemaker having two children. These her romanticism couldn't fathom the fact that Robert is a plain man, coward for social manner in New Orleans.
Because Edna's awakening is too rely on Robert, she deeply desponds from his departure, actually he fleed from her, to Mexico. She bewilders a letter not come to her but to Mademoiselle Reisz and from the feeling of loss, has a relationship with Arobin, a kind of Don Juan though she realizes---" Today is Arobin: tomorrow it will be some one else". Of course such behaviour can't be progressed self-fulfilment of her.
Regarding other self-fulfilment of her, Although Mademoiselle Reisz discerned the artistry in her paint and advised her: "To be an artist, one must possess the soul that dares and defies," Edna doesn't accept it seriously. She doesn't seem to become professional painter in spite of a dealer recommends her to draw much. She is indifferent how comes the money to her
Moreover I can't understand she moves to so-called Pigeon house, in the nearest place form Mr. Ponteller's mansion. Why doesn't she move to the East or somewhere far distant if she really want to free from her family and friends.
I maybe too strict for a Southern Belle who lived in the limited circumstance of the Victorian Era. But in according the story, the fact is like previous paragraphs.
My conclusion is; Edna, after all, can't know how to manage herself, impossible go forward, impossible go back, only possible standstill, that means Edna had to go to die.