While reading the first couple chapters of The Awakening, I found it hard to stay awake. Much like most of the characters, I felt languish sluggish and languid. The tone of the beginning reminded me of the tide. Kate Chopin often makes reference to the sea, and the beginning of the had the pace of a tide: slow, lazy, and repetitive.
Edna was often found going to sleep and taking long naps. She was asleep during the times when she played her housewife role. When she was still acting as a domestic societal housewife, she was always falling asleep. She was almost dormant. Once Edna started becoming more aware of her independence, the tone of the novel changed. Edna wasn't falling asleep every other page. Edna was alive and always doing things! She painted, gardened, and glowed on long walks in town.
Sleep became a motif of her oppression and the addictiveness of her role. Now that Edna seemed free of her oppression, she stopped having to take long naps and sleep all throughout the day!
The ending of the novel is what intriuges me the most. Edna is fully awake in that she is fully independent. Other than the manipulating seducting sea, there is no one controlling her or pushing her in a role that she does not wany to play. She is a complete individual. She is fully awake and conscious of her independence.
But in a way, is she falling back asleep? Literally, she is going into a very long sleep by committing suicide. This is ironic because she is conscious of her role and independence, but her conscious self chose to go back to sleep. Why would we she choose to die? To go to sleep?
Lastly, is Edna actually free? In the end, the sea turns into a manipulating seductress who curls over her ankles like snakes(115). Is she actually independent or is nature controlling her fate? Is she even awake at all?