Deathbed Scenes In The Awakening

3057 Words13 Pages
The prevalence and description of death and deathbed scenes and its importance as a plot device is omnipresent to nineteenth-century literature. Death was everywhere and mortality rates were high, especially in children, not all parents expected their children to survive their early years (Da Sousa Correa, p.10). Additionally, maternal death rates were high with women dying, often leaving the baby, and other children in the family with a widowed husband. Thus, authors often used the death of a child to stress the importance of innocence and the value of childhood; the author often expressing the sole reason of a child dying was that they would pass to a better world. For example, nineteenth-century England was in the midst of social and economic…show more content…
The end of the nineteenth-century brought with it many changes, with industrialisation, railways etc., but it was not quite ready to tolerate a female sexual revolution. (Walder, p.257) Paradoxically, Edna’s awakening is cumulative and complex as she experiences a powerful, emotional and physical awakening and becomes enlightened to her inner-self. The omniscient narrator describes the process as “Mrs Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the world as a human being, and to recognise her relations as an individual to the world within and about her.” (Chopin, p.16) Peculiarly, Edna’s sexual awakening is comparable to animals in that her sexual impulses are impulsive and separate from her mind, a revelation that plunges Edna into a state of despondency. (Chopin,…show more content…
42). Bert Bender, who stresses Chopin's keen interest in Darwin's theories, reads the unusual reference to Edna's teeth as an echo of Darwin's observations about the canine tooth in human beings. Bender states in his essay “ The Teeth of Desire, The Awakening and The Descent of Man (Reader, P.486-496) that the canine tooth “no longer serves man as a special weapon for tearing his enemies or prey,” but he “reveal [s], by sneering, the line of his descent. For though he no longer intends, nor has the power to use these teeth as weapons, he will unconsciously retract his snarling muscles.” (Reader, p.492) Clearly, the reference to ‘strong white teeth’ is an indication of Edna’s new sexual revelation as she tells her lover Robert that the “whole island seems changed now; a new race of beings must have sprung up, leaving only you and me as past relics.” (Chopin, p.42) Thus, paving the way for the death of their

    More about Deathbed Scenes In The Awakening

      Open Document