Awakening: The Contradictions of Sexuality,

Edna is betwixt and between, neither able to wholly isolate herself from society, sexuality, and love like the reclusive Mademoiselle Reisz and unable to limit her intellectual and emotional capacity like Adele. In modern language one might say that Edna wants a balanced life, or wants to have it all, but this is impossible given the Victorian morals of her day. To be sexually faithful renders her into an Adele-like role, but to rebel through infidelity simply subjugates her into another stereotypically feminine role, and denies her the social status of being a wife and mother.

Yet Edna does not have either the talent or full inclination to be a hermit and slave to her art like Mademoiselle Reisz. Caught adrift socially, Edna flounders and literally as well as figuratively drowns in a sea of contradictions, in a society that demands women either abandon their sexuality to pursue their art, or subsume themselves sexually to a man, in marriage or as a mistress..

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