Critical Analysis of The Awakening Essay

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Critical Analysis of The Awakening

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, is the story of a woman who is seeking freedom. Edna Pontellier feels confined in her role as mother and wife and finds freedom in her romantic interest, Robert Lebrun. Although she views Robert as her liberator, he is the ultimate cause of her demise. Edna sees Robert as an image of freedom, which brings her to rebel against her role in society. This pursuit of freedom, however, causes her death. Chopin uses many images to clarify the relationship between Robert and Edna and to show that Robert is the cause of both her freedom and her destruction.

Birds are a sizable image in The Awakening. Edna feels like a caged bird, and wishes to be freed. When Madame Ratignolle plays the piano, Edna often creates pictures in her head that represent the music. Edna's picture of a musical peice called "Solitude" is "the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore" (71). "His attitude was one of hopeless resignation as he looked toward a distant bird winging its flight away from him" (71). Edna feels like this man, as though she is trapped and cannot spread her wings and fly. This is a danger, however. Caged birds, although they are not free, are safe. They do not know of the dangers that can come with freedom. Once Edna tastes freedom, she does not want to go back to the safety of a caged life. She does not know of all the possible dangers, and being naive, she is very s...

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