The Symbol Of Water In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Water can be identified as a symbol that embodies the very essence of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. This “feminist” novel depicts the life of Edna Pontellier and explores the many daunting themes of identity, women and their roles in society, and independence; all of which, during the nineteenth century, were extremely sensitive and daring topics. In a nutshell, the novel is truly about her “awakening”, which is portended by its title. What allows this is water, which stands to represent Edna’s awakening. It is no coincidence that much of her time at Grand Isle was spent at the beach or in the water, or that her infamous death was due to drowning. Similarities like these do not just occur: they give purpose to the novel’s plot and meaning.…show more content…
Like the current beneath its surface, it pulls and tugs at her soul, inviting her to its depths. Edna was attracted to the water, just the same as she was her changes. When she first begins to transition, she was chary and distant, hesitant of its mysterious qualities- she felt the same way towards the ocean. She was not sure why, but she could not resist the temptations of this new fantasy, and she could not stop herself from finding her way back to the water. In her eyes, “the voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation,” (Chopin 33). Edna felt connected to the water; in it, she reached self-actualization and encountered a side of her no one else knew existed...even herself. It was only once its potent seductions drew her in did Edna begin to see and feel the alterations swelling inside her. The true turning point and catalyst in her awakening was her ability to swim on her own. While Edna did attempt to swim before, she was never truly free- she depended on…show more content…
It is also, though, the thing that kills her. While Chopin’s work is technically classified as a feminist novel, many question if this writing has been appropriately labeled. The reason for this dispute is because of Edna’s apparent suicide. While she may appear weak and her drowning may appear as defeat, her suicide is an important part of her awakening. Her death is the final step towards a complete transition. As morbid as it may seem, Edna was never going to be happy in a world so constricting and limiting. The only way to complete and arrant freedom was to liberate herself from a life full of impedances and griefs. Her demise was actually her birth, allowing her soul to live eternally awakened. Edna’s life and death is cyclical, where she is born and eventually dies, only to be reborn. The only thing connecting each phase of her life is water, serving as the guide for her newly aroused being. It is the fuel to the fire, the light that induces and triggers the changes within her. Readers can see this cyclical aspect of water when Chopin utilizes the same phrases at her death and at the commencement of the novel, where she first learns to swim. “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude,” (Chopin 203). Edna still feels enticed to the water, but

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