She is not asking Adele for permission and Adele does not try to force her to do or not do anything. She does kindly ask her to think of her children but she does not attack her. Adele does not understand Edna when she tells her that she would give her money and her life for her children but not herself. Her belief system is too different from Edna's but the woman can still connect on a female level. Without this bond, Edna would have never been able to reach out to other people in hopes of forming a connection.
Adele is necessary for us to see how Edna has evolved over the course of time. This is easily demonstrated in her relationship and her feelings toward Adele. Edna's development can be seen in stages throughout the story. One way in which her change manifests itself is how she begins to view others. While she cares for her friend, Edna realizes that Adele and her husband are living a rather empty life. After a visit with them, she is "moved by a kind of commiseration" (74) for Adele. She feels a "pity for that colorless existence which never uplifted its possessor beyond the region of blind contentment, in which no moment of anguish ever visited her soul, in which she would never have the taste of life's delirium" (74). These thoughts leave Edna depressed as she begins to realize that there is much more to life than simply being married and having babies. It should be noted that Adele is not unhappy with her life. This is significant to the story. She does not seek to find fulfillment from anything else than what she considers her family. Edna sees her family almost as a burden. Without the contrast we see in Adele, Edna's transformation would not appear as powerful.
Edna's awakening is also triggered by Adele's giving birth. One thing that we associate with Adele is fertility. When Edna meets her, she has had three children already and contemplating a fourth child. She was pregnant so much that when she makes a comment about her condition, no one knows if she is referring to being pregnant or not. Edna sees Adele's birth as a tragedy. We read, "with an inward agony, with a flaming, outspoken revolt against the ways of Nature, she witnessed the scene of torture" (146). This scene is powerful because it is quit the opposite reaction of what we are accustomed to when a woman gives birth. Generally, childbirth is seen as a miracle of nature and a beautiful thing, not a revolting scene. Edna's reaction only brings her closer to the truth that she is not the kind of motherwoman that Adele is. The event leaves he stunned and speechless and that scene, followed by the conversation with the doctor force Edna to realize that she is living in time that is simply not ready for her. Like Tesla, she is a woman out of time and there is no way that she can make her society accept who or how she is.
The Awakening" is all about self-exploration and the desire to know beyong anything else. This anything else includes family, friends, and even children. Edna knows that life has more to give her than what Adele seems to experience. She knows this from her own emotions and the fact that she is not instinctively a motherwoman. In her attempts to discover who she is, she is comes to realize that she is attempting the impossible for w woman in the eighteenth century. No one makes this more clear to her than Adele. Adele is a friend but she is also a painful reminder to Edna of what she is not, what she can never be, and what she will never have. Without Adele, Edna's character would not feel as isolated as she does. Adele is the perfect wife and mother and Edna is not; Adele is what every woman hopes to be and Edna has no desire to be like her at all. Edna simply does not belong and can see no way out of her situation. No one makes this more clear that the perfect motherwoman, Adele.