The Awakening By Kate Chopin Essay

The Awakening By Kate Chopin Essay

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Published in 1899, Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, is centered around Edna Pontellier, a woman who undergoes an awakening which transforms her from a traditionally obedient, 19th century wife and mother into a sexually liberated and independent woman with unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood. In the novel, Edna falls in love with another man, Robert Lebrun, but has an affair with a different one, Alcée Arobin. In both instances she is defying the social norms of her period and casts aside her marriage with forty-year-old, wealthy New Orleans businessman, Léonce Pontellier. Towards the end of the novel, Edna Pontellier’s awakening and newly found independence leaves her in a state of overwhelming solitude. Reviewers of Chopin’s novel recognize her unique style of writing, as well as, her exquisite and masterful literary technique. Chopin’s use of various symbols throughout her novel reveal to readers a number of disparate concepts and ideas. The appearance of the lovers and the lady in black, the ocean, and the birds are strong examples of symbolism that can be identified in the novel and convey to readers abstract ideas, such as, love, rebirth, and confinement.
One exceedingly apparent symbol present in Chopin’s novel is the recurring presence of the lovers and the woman in black. In the novel, the lady in black is described as a widow who seems to be very religious. The lovers are always seen accompanied by the lady in black, Chopin does not acknowledge the lovers without mentioning and speaking of the lady in black. After Robert walks Madame Ratignolle to her cottage and engages in a conversation concerning Edna, “the lady in black [is seen] creeping behind [the lovers], [looking] a trifle paler and more jaded than ...


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...ment that Edna comes to realization with as she learns that her ideals of freedom and independence are not a reality in the company of the Creoles.
Kate Chopin’s style of writing and her use of symbolism in The Awakening are easily identifiable to readers. The lovers and the lady in black characterize the repercussions of young love that is initiated by infatuation. The pivotal symbolism of the sea depicted Edna’s rebirth and independence as she was awakened.The symbolism of birds reveal the confined lifestyle that Edna lived before her awakening. Furthermore, it unearthed her lack of strength as she defied the rules of the Creole society and become exceedingly more independent and solitary. In The Awakening the repeated symbolism of the lovers and the lady in black, the sea, and the birds illustrate complex ideas associated with love, rebirth, and confinement.

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