The contrast between an urban and a tropical setting represents the awakening that the protagonist experiences in Kate Chopin's classic novel, The Awakening. At Grand Isle Edna becomes conscious of her restrictive marriage in a male dominated society. Her awakening originates with her experiences at Grand Isle but fully develops upon her return to the city, where she completes her transformation from her roles as wife and mother to an independent woman.
The setting at the beginning of the novel is the Grand Isle, a popular Creole island resort. The reader first sees Edna returning from the beach, with the sea disappearing on the horizon, and the mood of a lazy summer day permeating the scene. This idyllic environment is soon interrupted by her husband Leonce's characteristically stuffy and disapproving reaction to his wife’s activities: "You are burnt beyond recognition". Leonce views his wife as a "valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage". Swimming at mid-day, Edna has endangered her respectability in a society where women may be judged by the color of their complexion. Yet Edna does not seem ruffled by society’s expectations or by her husband's callous remark. Instead she focuses on the summer warmth, her companion, Robert Lebrun, and swimming, where she is free both physically and emotionally. Edna’s habit of removing her wedding rings before entering the water underscores and symbolizes her temporary escape from the ties of matrimony and the bonds of convention.
While vacationing at Grand Isle, Edna is surrounded by mother-women "who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels". Unlike these women, Edna does not wish to submerge her own identity and freedom in her role as a wife and mother. At one point, her husband claims that she is a negligent and irresponsible mother and orders Edna to tend to their sick child, believing this duty to be a "mother's place." Uncharacteristically, Edna appears bewildered and distraught after her husband's outburst. "An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish". She begins to suspect that a deeper relationship is possible between a man and a w...
... middle of paper ...
.....got into her blood and into her brain like an intoxicant" (124). As Edna continues to separate herself from the traditional roles of women in her time, Chopin distinguishes the main character from those around her through the use of symbolism. At her dinner party, Edna reigns as the confident, self-assured hostess, described by the author as a jeweled goddess emerging from the sea. "Venus rising from the foam could have presented no more entrancing a spectacle than Mrs. Pontellier, blazing with beauty and diamonds at the head of the board" .
Kate Chopin's utilization of the setting in The Awakening is essential to the character development of Edna as she escapes the restrictions of Creole society to become an independent woman. Symbols and images are mirrored and intertwined in the two settings. This repetitive pattern underscores and expands the reader’s understanding of Edna's enlightenment. But in fact, the most dramatic change in the novel occurs during the transition from Grand Isle to New Orleans. In this story, Chopin's use of setting proves to be an effective complement to her vivid imagery throughout the novel, and to the symbolism of renewal and rediscovery.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Comparison Between Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon and Awakenings There were many similarities between the short story “Flowers for Algernon” and the movie Awakenings. “Flowers for Algernon”, by Daniel Keyes, is about a man named Charlie, who has a very low IQ. Charlie gets an operation to make him smarter. It is a story about what happens to him during that period of time. The movie, Awakenings, directed by Penny Marshall, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, is about how some people, including Leonard Lowe, the main character, developed a disease and are now catatonic.... [tags: Compare Contrast, Flowers for Algernon, Awakenings]
633 words (1.8 pages)
- Edna seeks occupational freedom in art, but lacks sufficient courage to become a true artist. As Edna awakens to her selfhood and sensuality, she also awakens to art. Originally, Edna “dabbled” with sketching “in an unprofessional way” (Chopin 543). She could only imitate, although poorly (Dyer 89). She attempts to sketch Adèle Ratignolle, but the picture “bore no resemblance” to its subject. After her awakening experience in Grand Isle, Edna begins to view her art as an occupation (Dyer 85). She tells Mademoiselle Reisz that she is “becoming an artist” (Chopin 584).... [tags: the awakening]
887 words (2.5 pages)
- In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Edna Pontellier’s suicide is an assertion of her independence and contributes to Chopin’s message that to be independent one must choose between personal desires and societal expectations. Chopin conveys this message through Edna’s reasons for committing suicide and how doing so leads her to total independence. Unlike the other women of Victorian society, Edna is unwilling to suppress her personal identity and desires for the benefit of her family. She begins “to realize her position in the universe as a human being and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (35).... [tags: the awakening]
598 words (1.7 pages)
- Critical Views of The Awakening The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, is full of ideas and understanding about human nature. In Chopin's time, writing a story with such great attention to sensual details in both men and women caused skepticism among readers and critics. However, many critics have different views with deeper thought given to The Awakening. Symbolism, the interpretation of Edna's suicide, and awakenings play important roles in the analysis of all critics. Symbolism in The Awakening is interpreted in many ways.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
728 words (2.1 pages)
- Criticism of The Awakening Reading through all of the different criticism of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening has brought about ideas and revelations that I had never considered during my initial reading of the novel. When I first read the text, I viewed it as a great work of art to be revered. However, as I read through all of the passages, I began to examine Chopin’s work more critically and to see the weaknesses and strengths of her novel. Reading through others' interpretations of her novel has also brought forth new concepts to look at again.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
726 words (2.1 pages)
- Perspectives on Love in The Awakening Though Kate Chopin wrote her novel, The Awakening, in the late nineteenth century, her insight of such things as love, romance, and relationships is remarkably modern. Through Mr. Pontellier, Edna Pontellier, and Robert Lebrun, Chopin presents her opinions of love versus "romantic love." Chopin uses the Pontellier's marriage to predict the modern view of love and the relationship between Edna and Robert to portray the concept of romantic love.... [tags: Chopin Awakening Essays]
872 words (2.5 pages)
- “I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself” (62). Edna tries explaining to Madame Ratignolle that this is something she is just beginning to understand from herself. She does not know why but she cannot bring herself to give up herself for her kids. The author Kate Chopin, who wrote the book The Awakening, explains through her novel societies’ demands and wishes for a woman, such as Edna, with a family. The book takes place in the late 19th century in New Orleans. In this time period however, Edna must become the obedient wife and stay home to take care of her kids and her husband.... [tags: The Awakening, Kate Chopin]
974 words (2.8 pages)
- Kate Chopin's novel, The Awakening, transcends societal structures and expectations. It deals with the day-to-day realities that a woman must face if she is to progress to full maturation and become at peace with herself and the world. Set in turn-of-the-century Creole New Orleans, it addresses the relentless strength and courage required for a woman to remain true to her convictions. Most studies of The Awakening focus on Edna Pontellier's newly emerged awareness and struggle against the societal forces that repress her.... [tags: Kate Chopin's The Awakening]
3448 words (9.9 pages)
- Awakenings Many people experience events that will alter their lives forever. These events may be for the better, or perhaps for the worst. Either way, life will most likely never be the same. It is, however, the way one responds to these events that is most significant. The stories of Alice Sebold and Edna Pontellier differ greatly from one another. Both women, nevertheless, find themselves entering into a new chapter of their lives. While their stories are different, the issues that they face are similar.... [tags: Essays Papers]
1257 words (3.6 pages)
- Allende foreshadows the upcoming revolutionary transformation within the government of the country (probably Chile) Setting: Alba's Adolescence in the University Having matured and leaving "childhood for good", Alba finishes her school around the "age of 18" (p. 318) and goes on to attend university where this chapter, entitled Awakenings, is set. Amidst the academic surroundings, Alba encounters Miguel in the cafeteria of the university. They immediately fall in love with each other, with neither one of them realizing that they had already met once before.... [tags: English Literature]
989 words (2.8 pages)