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Symbolism in the Title of Chopin's Awakening
Kate Chopin entitled her second and final novel, The Awakening. In doing so she did not just give an abstract name to her work, but she chose a title with meaning and symbolism. By titling her work The Awakening, Chopin is indicating her feelings and opinions of the Creole society, Edna, her life, and her ultimate decision. The title also symbolizes how Edna defies the constraints of her ordained life as a Creole women and becomes and individual. Furthermore the title the Chopin's novel symbolizes the theme of her novel.
In Edna Pontellier's adopted culture, the Creole culture, women have a certain expectations in society. A Creole women must be beautiful, motherly, a good wife to their husbands. "They were 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" (pg. 8). This is what was expected of women, it was their place in Creole society. However Edna awoke from this social institution in which women have a predestined life, which they must live the Creole way. Edna became conscious of the fact that this culture is what kept her from doing what she really wanted to do, to love, live, be independent and to express herself as an individual. Throughout the work Edna is constantly awakening from her naps, constantly awakening to a world she cannot escape. "Each morning she awoke with hope..." (pg. 104) and "When Edna awoke with the conviction that she had slept long and soundly." (pg. 37), these are a few examples of Edna awakening from slumber. It is only through these frequent naps that Edna defies the constraints of the world she lives in. Her awakening from her naps is symbolic of her awakening from the Creole culture and her husband.
Not only does the title symbolize Edna's awakening from her social constraints, but the title also conveys Chopin's opinion of society and Edna. By entitling her novel The Awakening, she is stating that there is an injustice to women in society that people need to conscious of, which people need to awaken to and that Edna has indeed awakened to it.
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The title of the novel also embodies the theme of the novel. The theme of this novel is; Awakening from social constraints in order to attain true individuality. In the novel it is Edna ambition to attain independence and individuality, although she has to overcome her constraints as a Creole woman to attain them, but first she must awaken to the fact that there are constraints in society in order to overcome them.
The title of the novel symbolizes many things throughout this work. Mainly the title symbolizes Edna's struggle to cast off social constraints and awaken to a world in which she has complete independence and individuality. The theme also conveys the thoughts and opinions of Chopin herself as well as embodying the theme of the novel. Chopin put a lot of thought into her title, and thus making it the center of focus in her novel.