What is there to attempt when the consciousness of an insuperable conundrum is surfaced to realization? This topic is considered in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in which a young woman, Edna, recognizes the social constraint that men generally had on women as a married mother herself. Despite her identification, continued attempts for liberation only ended in inexorable defeat. In contrast, the perception of an ongoing dilemma can sometimes conclude in the ultimate goal: positive change. Examples akin to Martin Luther King Jr. in the attempt for racial justice and Abraham Lincoln for the abolishment of habitual slavery illustrate the possibility for success. Other times, this cognizance provides the comprehension that the hindrance of the constraints is unbreakable. This theme is progressed through the application of despondent detail, juxtaposition of Edna’s moods, and motif of birds.
To begin, despondent detail elicits the hopelessness of Edna. One of the main plots is her involvement with other men besides her husband, one being Robert Lebrun - an immature, flirtatious character whom Edna eventually confesses her love for despite her marriage to her husband. When Edna later unexpectedly learns of Robert’s intentions to leave for Mexico, her eyes “brim with tears” and it appears that “she [is] denied that which her impassioned, newly awakened being [demands]” (67). The negativity associated with these details develop Edna’s disparity. Another man whom Edna becomes enamored with is Alcee Arobin. They spend countless nights with one another in parallelism to Edna and Robert. She ironically ponders Robert’s reaction to the intimacy between Arobin and herself (not her husband), and then she “[sleeps] a languorous sleep...
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...y others despite her endeavor of breaking free. Ultimately, as Edna edges out towards the water to her death, a bird is depicted with “a broken wing” and is “beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water” (159). This recurrence parallels the beaten bird to a suffering Edna. She has “despondency [that] came upon her there in the wakeful night” that never alleviates (159). Dejection is put to action when Edna wanders out into the water, “the shore. . . far behind her” (159). Motif of birds articulates her suicide by its association with negativity and impotence to fly free. These all additionally develop Edna’s ineptitude for her own liberation.
In conclusion, Edna commits suicide in response to a cognition of her infrangible restriction. Despondent detail, juxtaposition of moods, and motif of birds thoroughly mature this theme.
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