Characterism And Symbolism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Edna Pontellier, the protagonist in the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is followed by the audience through her voyage of self-realization. As Edna’s journey unfolds, Chopin incorporates a vast variety of symbols in order to express Edna’s relationship with society. One of the most present symbols that Chopin uses is the way she addresses Edna’s clothing or its absence. As Edna’s character develops and her desire to liberate herself swells, she removes clothing that she feels are not only constricting to her body physically but to her soul emotionally. While Edna removes her clothing throughout the novel, she is contravening the social norms and rules that the society she lives in has presented to her. This is one of many ways that Edna…show more content…
At this point in the novel, the audience begins to see how Edna really feels about her life and we can observe how Chopin uses her clothing to do so. Chopin uses very detailed language in order to paint a picture in the reader’s head of the type of clothing both Edna and Adele are wearing as they enjoy the time they spend outdoors. While the audience reads these descriptions, they begin to understand the difference between the dresses of Edna and Adele. Although just by reading the description of Edna’s dress, it does not seem so taboo, Chopin’s diction in Adele’s description truly shows just how different Edna is dressing. Chopin refers to Adele as “more careful of her complexion” and uses extremely descriptive adjectives in order to portray her “luxuriant” beauty. Chopin states that Edna is not wearing a solid colored dress, rather a white dress with “a waving vertical line of brown running through it.” Edna’s hat is also described as “heavy” and is said to have clung “close to her head.” However, when describing Madame Ratignolle, Chopin states that she is dressed in pure white and was wearing more clothing, such as gloves and a veil, to protect her skin and assure that no one can see it. While Edna and Adele sit on the beach, Edna dresses differently from the other women in order to reject the Victorian social rules and make herself feel more liberated. During the time that we follow Edna on her journey of self-discovery, we watch her challenge the society that she lives in through her clothing by rejecting the norm and wearing what she

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