Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

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Feminism first emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century; at this point they were mainly focused on gaining the right to vote. By 1910, the suffrage movement as it was called was gaining nationwide notoriety and by 1919 had given women the right to vote. However even at the height of the suffrage movement, women’s rights were scarce. Women were denied a large amount of jobs, and the few they could have were both exploitative and discriminatory towards them. In addition to this, women were given few choices for marriage many times it was for status, and for women at this point it was also for their whole life. This provides the backdrop for Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening. Chopin’s novel shows the struggle of a woman in this time period dealing with the repression and injustices in society. In this early feminist novel, the main character, Edna Pontellier, struggles to find herself and free herself from the roles of wife, and mother. The novel is rife with symbolism that helps us to understand the struggle that Edna, and many of the women of the early nineteen-hundreds went through to free themselves from stereotypes in their quest for personal freedom. Throughout the novel Kate Chopin’s heavy use of symbolism with the birds provides accurate metaphors of the awakening of her desire for individual freedom and the struggle for it that Edna Pontellier goes through in The Awakening, as well as the struggle of women for freedoms as well.
The birds are representative of Edna and are used to allude to her changes. The first comparison to Edna with birds is with the parrot. This alludes to Edna with the aspect of being caged, and the idea that both have very little freedom. In addition to this both the parrot and Edna are viewed as an...


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...at women like birds can be a great variety of things too, it defies the conventional norms of society.
Chopin uses many symbols throughout the book as tools in an effective manner. The birds are a tool to show the change that Edna goes through in the novel. In addition they are also used to portray women in their many roles and show all that a woman can be. It also gives deeper meaning to the plight of women by making it a broader and more easily portrayed idea, and as something to unify and connect all women. It shows the views of society upon them as well, and shows the many things and roles that women can have. Symbols serve as an important part of the story to give it deeper meaning and to portray the change in Edna in many ways, as well as to give women seeking fulfillment guidance.



Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Avon Books, 1972. Print.

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