Symbolism And Symbolism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Kate Chopin's The Awakening is full of symbolism such as birds, clothes, houses and other narrative elements are symbols with an extremely significant meaning. The birds are the major symbolic images from the very beginning of the novel: "A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: `Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!'" (Chopin pp3) In The Awakening, caged birds represent Edna's entrapment. She is caged as a wife and mother; she is never expected to actually be able to think and make decisions for herself. The caged birds also symbolize the entrapment of Victorian women in general since their movements are limited by the rules of the society that they live in. Just like Edna the parrot cannot communicate its feelings because the parrot speaks in "a language which nobody [understands]" (Chopin pp3). Edna’s feelings are incomprehensible to the members of Creole society. Chopin uses wild birds and the idea of flight to symbolize freedom. Edna experiences a vision while Mademoiselle Reisz is playing piano and this vision includes the wild birds and flight. "When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore. He was naked. His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him." (Chopin pp26-27) Here Edna is showing her intense desire for freedom, a desire to escape from her roles as a wife and mother, and also from her husband Léonce. Léonce oppresses Edna by restricting her to a social cage. Edna thus begins to express her desire for complete independence through her move to the pigeon house "because it's so small and looks like a pige... ... middle of paper ... ...o different female roles. Adéle serves as the perfect "mother-woman" being both married and pregnant. To Edna, Adéle appears to be unable to perceive herself as an individual, she does not have an identity apart from her roles of mother and wife, therefore Adéle exists only in relation to her family. The role of mother-woman does not provide the independence that Edna desires. Mademoiselle Reisz, on the other hand, gives Edna an alternative to the role of "mother-woman". She offers an abundance autonomy and independence however her life lacks love. Although she has a secure sense of her own individuality and independence, her life lacks love, friendship and warmth. Edna chooses for her identity a combination of Adéle Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. She is more honest in self-identity than Adéle and more dependent on human relationships than Mademoiselle Reisz.
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