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Comparison of Edna Pontellier and Daisy Buchanan - A Literary Essay Example

4 pages
905 words
Middlebury College
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Women in the contemporary world are varied in terms of their preferences regarding the type of men they want to marry and the kind of life they want to live. Some genuinely love their husbands; others love them for the money and riches that come with marrying them while others choose to stay alone in a view to having independence. Those belonging to the last category often look for men only for sexual satisfaction. It is, however, also possible to have married women looking for sexual satisfaction from men who are not their legally wedded husbands. Kate Chopins novel, The Awakening, brings to the fore a woman, Edna, belonging to the category of those seeking independence from their husbands while pursuing other men for true love and sexual satisfaction. On the other hand, Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby talks about an adulterous woman who loves men for their wealth and the regret she experiences. She is totally indifferent to the feelings of those that truly love her. This paper compares the two women and lays a premise that whereas Edna seeks independence from her husband, Daisy is very dependent of both Tom, her husband and Gatsby, her ex-lover.

The two characters exhibit contrasting behaviours when it comes to love, marriage and partners, but they both go against the values of society in regard to these elements of life. In The Awakening, Ednas rebellion stems from her new found love for Robert and her husbands preoccupation with his business trips at the expense of Edna and the family in general. She does away with the expectation of the society that a married woman should think more about her family than an adulterous relationship. She neglects her husband and children and even rents a small room, the pigeon hole to move in with Robert (Chopin 75). The love she has for Robert makes her undergo an awakening: she realizes that she no longer needs a husband to survive as long as she has Robert. Unlike Edna, Daisys behaviour implies that she does not so much believe in love. Instead, she believes in taking advantage of mens love to enjoy the good life they bring with them. This is first evident when she goes against her promise to wait for Gatsby. She marries Tom instead of waiting for Gatsby just because he did not have money when they were together (Fitzgerald(b) 44). It is also illustrated in her decision to have an extramarital love with him when he later acquires enough wealth. Her decision not to attend Gatsbys burial further reiterates the fact that she does not really love him but his wealth (Fitzgerald(a) 100). It portrays her as being indifferent and more concerned with her wellbeing than that of the people she claims to love.

Financial independence and dependence are the other factors that make the two characters different from each other. Edna struggles to acquire a complete financial independence from her husband. She works on perfecting her painting, which she eventually does, and sells her work with the help of her art teacher. In fact, the painting helps her earn some money, helping her foot her bills. It is only after being sure of making her own money that she decides to move out of her matrimonial house to rent a room where she stays with her lover, Robert (Chopin 67). In contrast to Ednas financial independence, Daisy is wholly dependent on the wealth of her lovers. She marries Tom and not Gatsby because the later was poor when they first met while the former was very affluent (Chopin 89). She also seems to regret why she did not marry Gatsby when she realizes that he had gone on a mission to make money just to woo him. Gatsbys action in itself also implies that he understands that Daisy only loves him when he has riches, and not when he is poor. Therefore, Daisy is less concerned with being financially independent while Edna has learnt to stand on her own feet financially.

The two characters are also portrayed as being selfish in their decisions to seek for independence and dependence on the people around them. They completely disregard their loved ones and go on to pursue their interests in dependence and independence. Edna, for example, makes the decision of moving out of the family house to move in with Robert without caring whether her two children will miss her or not (Chopin 93). Besides this, she is too rebellious towards her husband that he has to look for the family doctor, Mandelet, to counsel him on the matter (Chopin 82). Similarly, Daisy disregards the love Gatsby has for her to marry Tom for his money. Later, she also disregards Toms love and starts an adulterous relationship with Gatsby (Fitzgerald(b) 54). Worse still, she is so taken by her interests in money and good life that she does not mention anything about her child. She is just enjoying good life on her own.

In a nutshell, the two women share some differences in their behaviours. Edna seeks independence while Daisy is only preoccupied with dependence on her lovers wealth. Both of them disregard the people around them in their quest to satisfy their desires for dependence and independence.


Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening, H.S. Stone, 1899.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby, Simon and Schuster, 2003.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby: Novel and Study Notes, Oxford University University Press Southern Africa, 2008.


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