Essay On Symbolism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Everyone should be free to be his or her true self. When someone has to be fake and their whole life is an act, they are going to be miserable. This is especially evident in The Awakening by Kate Chopin. In this novel, Edna Pontellier hates her way of life. She is bored with just being a housewife and living lavishly. Throughout her journey of self-realization, Edna gains happiness and independence. She strays from social norms and even commits some scandalous acts. Art, water, and birds all symbolize Edna’s ultimate goal, which is freedom. One symbol Chopin uses throughout the novel is art. For Edna, art is one of her outlets for finding independence and for self expression. For example, to purchase her “pigeon house,” (85) Edna sells her…show more content…
Birds are often used as a symbol of freedom. At the beginning of the novel, a parrot is in a cage hanging on the porch. A mockingbird is also in a cage on the porch. The bird is yelling “allez vous-en!” which means “go away!” in French and the mockingbird is singing (1). Contrastingly, this caged parrot and caged mockingbird represent entrapment. The parrot is telling Edna that she needs to get away so she can find her freedom. The mockingbird can only repeat the sounds it hears, so it represents how women in this time period are not supposed to have minds of their own. Throughout the novel, Edna develops her own way of thinking and develops apathy towards other people’s opinions. Mademoiselle Reisz also talks about birds in the sense of freedom. When she finds out Edna is moving into her now house, she “[feels Edna’s] shoulder blades, to see if [her] wings [are] strong” (83). For birds, their wings enable them to have freedom. For Edna, birds symbolize her freedom because if her hypothetical wings are strong, she will be able to fly away to her new house and build her own identity for her life. Edna defies another cultural norm because instead of using her wings to shelter her children, Edna uses her wings to fly and find freedom. Birds are the final symbol that represent freedom for
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