Throughout her novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin uses symbolism and imagery to portray the main character's emergence into a state of spiritual awareness. The image that appears the most throughout the novel is that of the sea. “Chopin uses the sea to symbolize freedom, freedom from others and freedom to be one's self” (Martin 58). The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, wants that freedom, and with images of the sea, Chopin shows Edna's awakening desire to be free and her ultimate achievement of that freedom.
Edna's awakening begins with her vacation to the beach. There, she meets Robert Lebrun and develops an intense infatuation for him, an infatuation similar to those which she had in her youth and gave up when she married. The passionate feelings beginning to overwhelm her are both confusing and exciting. They lead to Edna beginning to ponder what her life is like and what she is like as a person. The spell of the sea influences these feelings which invite "the soul . . . to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation" (Chopin 57). Edna begins to fall under the sea's spell and begins to evaluate her feelings about the life that she has.
During the summer of Edna's awakening, the sea's influence increases as she learns how to swim, an event which holds much more significance that her fellow vacationers realize. “To her friends, she has accomplished a simple feat; to Edna, she has accomplished a miracle” (Showalter 114). She has found a peace and tranquility in swimming which gives her the feeling of freedom. The narrator tells us that as she swims, "she seem[s] to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself" (Chopin 74). She sees the freedom t...
... middle of paper ...
...ms out into the ocean for the final time, she finds her ultimate freedom.
In the end, the sea symbolizes freedom for Edna. It will never treat her as a possession like her husband has for so many years. It will not demand all of her time and attention as her children do. It will never abandon her as Robert does. It will enfold her "in its soft, close embrace" (Chopin 176) and allow her to experience the vast array of feelings that her life has forbidden her to do. The sea will allow her to be free.
Works Cited and Consulted
Chopin, Kate. "The Awakening." 1899. The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. Ed. Per Seyersted. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1969. 881-1000.
Martin, Wendy, ed. New Essays on the Awakening. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.
Showalter, Elaine. "Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book." 1993
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Importance of the Sea in Chopin’s The Awakening Unlike María Eugenia, Edna in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening chooses not to fill her family’s expectations. As she takes her final steps into the sea she thinks to herself: “they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul” (655). Edna treasures her autonomy and chooses death over familial subjugation. However her transformational journey, alluded to by the title of the novel leads to more than the rejection of her self-sacrificing familial roles as wife and mother and her death.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
2336 words (6.7 pages)
- Importance of the Ocean in Chopin's Awakening In Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, Chopin uses the motif of the ocean to signify the awakening of Edna Pontellier. Chopin compares the life of Edna to the dangers and beauty of a seductive ocean. Edna's fascinations with the unknown wonders of the sea help influence the reader to understand the similarities between Edna's life and her relationship with the ocean. Starting with fear and danger of the water then moving to a huge symbolic victory over it, Chopin uses the ocean as a powerful force in Edna's awakening to the agony and complexity of her life.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
871 words (2.5 pages)
- The Importance of Setting in The Awakening Setting is a key element in Chopin's novel, The Awakening To the novel's main character, Edna Pontellier, house is not home. Edna was not herself when enclosed behind the walls of the Pontellier mansion. Instead, she was another person entirely-- someone she would like to forget. Similarly, Edna takes on a different identity in her vacation setting in Grand Isle, in her independent home in New Orleans, and in just about every other environment that she inhabits.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
2217 words (6.3 pages)
- "The Doctor was a semi-retired physician, resting, as the saying is, upon his laurels. He bore a reputation for wisdom rather than skill.. .and was much sought for in matters of consultation."(64-65) Although this description defines the role of the Doctor throughout the novel, it does not do him justice regarding the depths of his intuitive abilities. Doctor Mandelet was a healer indeed-not of the body but of the mind. In spite of being a male, he does not fit into the stereotype, and seems to understand, though not fully, the identity conflicts tormenting Edna Pontellier.... [tags: The Awakening Essays]
744 words (2.1 pages)
- Symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Chopin's The Awakening is full of symbolism. Rather than hit the reader on the head with blunt literalism, Chopin uses symbols to relay subtle ideas. Within each narrative segment, Chopin provides a symbol that the reader must fully understand in order to appreciate the novel as a whole. I will attempt to dissect some of the major symbols and give possible explanations as to their importance within the text. Art itself is a symbol of both freedom and failure. In her attempt to become an artist, Edna reaches the zenith of her awakening. She begins to truly understand pure art as a means of self-expression as well as self-assertion. In a si... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays Kate]
1483 words (4.2 pages)
- Importance of the Characters in The Awakening The Awakening was a very exciting and motivating story. It contains some of the key motivational themes that launched the women’s movement. It was incredible to see how women were not only oppressed, but how they had become so accustomed to it, that they were nearly oblivious to the oppression. The one woman, Edna Pontellier, who dared to have her own feelings was looked upon as being mentally ill. The pressure was so great, that in the end, the only way that she felt she could be truly free was to take her own life.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
808 words (2.3 pages)
- Use of Symbolism in Chopin's The Awakening The Awakening is a novel full of symbolism; within each narrative segment there is often a central and powerful symbol that serves to add meaning to the text and to underline some subtle point Chopin is making. Understanding the meaning of these symbols is vital to a full appreciation of the story. This essay lists some of the major symbols with explanations of their importance. Art becomes a symbol of both freedom and failure. It is through the process of trying to become an artist that Edna reaches the highest point of her awakening.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
1277 words (3.6 pages)
- Unfulfilled Edna of The Awakening As evidenced in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and other novels of the 1800’s, women writers of this period seem to feel very repressed. Leonce Pontellier seemed to be fond of his wife, and treated her as one would treat a loved pet. In the beginning of the story it describes him as looking at her as a “valuable piece of personal property”. He does not value her fully as a human being more as a piece of property. However, he expects her to be everything he thinks she should be.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
763 words (2.2 pages)
- Choosing between Family and Individuality in Kate Chopin's The Awakening Kate Chopin's The Awakening focuses on a woman's struggle to become an individual while still being a mother and wife. In the process of this journey, the female heroine discovers that establishing her own identity means losing a mother's identity. Edna looks to be the "brave soul," a "soul that dares and defies" (Chopin 61). Edna's society looked down upon females who seek anything other than attending to their children and husband's needs.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays Papers]
2299 words (6.6 pages)
- The Awakening The Awakening by Kate Chopin was considered very shocking when it was first published because of the "sexual awakening" of the main character, Edna Pontellier, and her unconventional behavior. Chopin moved to New Orleans after her marriage and lived there for twelve years until the death of her husband. She returned to St. Louis where she began writing. She used her knowledge of Louisiana and Creole culture to create wonderful descriptions of local color, and she incorporated French phrases used by the Creoles.... [tags: essays research papers]
657 words (1.9 pages)
- feminaw Suicide as the Only Alternative for Edna Pontellier in The Awakening
- feminaw Edna Pontellier’s Predicament in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
- feminaw Rebirth of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
- feminaw Kate Chopin's The Awakening - Edna Pontellier, A Woman Ahead of her Time
- feminaw freeaw Kate Chopin's The Awakening as a Story of Independence
- growaw Personal Growth and Death of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening