Special Issue: 10-Year Anniversary Edition

Belittling Women’s Mental Health: The Struggles of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Katherine MacNeil
Athabasca University
Published December 15, 2020


Abstract: Women have often been treated a secondary citizens, in history, as well as in literature. Women’s mental health issues are often ignored or down-played unless their behavior challenges convention or goes against social norms. The treatment of Edna Pontellier’s character in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening illustrates how women’s mental health issues were treated in America at the turn of the twentieth century. The dialogue between the other characters, both male and female, illustrate how Edna’s mental health crisis was misunderstood, belittled and ignored by those closest to her and how this treatment contributed to Edna’s inability to cope.