Throughout the novel, it became increasingly obvious Edna’s difficulty in the field of true love. She had initially found what she knew wasn’t, followed by infatuation, and finally what she was sure was. Several different forms of love were present, yet each (including the final) proved to be unsuccessful. Edna never felt comfortable in her relationship with Leonce.
She had managed to assume the typical role of a female and never stray from her responsibilities that come with that. She had always done what was expected of her from her husband. However, this did not initiate solely with her husband’s wants. She had always followed through with doing exactly what she has been expected to do; including finding a husband is someone that she was not in love with.
He found more ownership in her, rather than equality in which she was longing for. She was never satisfying in the relationship that she had with him. The love that she had for him was merely present on the surface. It could best be described as a life that she was confined to living rather than the life that she had always yearned for. With the winds of change came a person that she found contrasting to her current life.
This man was Alcee Arobin. His role in her life was not true love either. He merely introduced the taste of tangible love to a searching body.
This love was not the kind that Edna was longing for either. Arobin’s role was to introduce her to the importance of sex. This was something that was foreign between her and her husband. She felt more like an individual when she was enjoying the act of lovemaking, rather than acting on account of someone else’s pleasure.
This affair was important to her becoming an individual. The entire pre-Robert time was in preparation for finding him. Arobin’s importance was evident with Edna’s actions immediately following this affair. She decided to close her house up and move to a smaller, less desirable one.
The fact that it is less desirable is a key factor. This makes it impossible to assume that she was moving out to live a better material life. She decided that she would sacrifice her good life and possessions in order to fully acquire individualism.
Edna’s true love was found in a person that appeared to have the most character. This character is what made it impossible for Edna ever to have him as her own. Robert refused to get in a relationship with someone that was already married.
His class and self-power doubled not only as what attracted her to him, but also what ultimately drove her to take her life in the end. Encountering Robert is where the title of the book arose. The Awaking is in reference to Edna’s feelings.
She feels like one who awakens gradually from a dream to the reality of life. This is when and where she realizes what is available and that she is incapable of going back to what she had previously. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, which makes it that much harder to return.