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Rebirth in The Awakening
Kate Chopin, author of The Awakening, focused a spotlight on some very dark corners of our society. As a woman, I want to have a voice in my marriage, and I want to make decisions along with my husband, if I decide to marry. In The Awakening, Edna is a married woman who does not want to be a wife or a mother. She is bound to her home and her husband who makes every important decision in their marriage.
Mr. Pontellier was a very demanding, know it all, kind of man. He expected his wife Edna to come to him at every beck and call. He never let Edna make any decisions of her own. For example, Edna couldn’t sleep one night, so she grabbed a shawl and sat at on her porch for a few early morning hours while her husband slept. He awoke, without her beside him, and demanded that she come in and go to bed. Why couldn’t she stay out on that porch and dream of good thoughts? She was a very unhappy woman, and many nights, she would cry for hours about her unhappiness.
In the third chapter she really expresses her true unhappiness with her husband and her children. She really has no interest in her children and caring for them as a mother. I can blame Edna, because she knew what she was in for when she married Leonce. But, I also feel sorry for her because reality hit her too late, and she’s miserable. I felt like she thought maybe giving it a chance with this man and bearing children, that she may learn to enjoy this life. WRONG!!
Leonce is a big pretender, especially in front of people. He sends chocolates and gifts to Edna, in which other women see and wish for that kind of husband. They don’t know the true kind of person he his. He is really not an ideal husband or father. He attends to his business and gambling with his friends while his wife is demanded to care for the children. If he was a true, loving husband, then he would take out some time to spend with his wife and help her out with the children.
Robert is a fun, caring man to women and he especially desires Edna. He sees her unhappiness and of course tries to comfort her.
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In the last paragraph of the last scene, she escapes her loneliness with death. At first, it’s a horrible image. There was no person or any reason to keep her alive besides Robert, whom she cannot have. The sea was an escape to fill her lonely soul. The sea is an image of an “awakening to a rebirth”, meaning she was cleansing her soul to find her freedom and fill her soul with happiness and love, instead of unbearable loneliness.
A second reading was necessary to better understood the symbolism between the birds and women. My first time reading, I kept wondering why birds were used so much in the story. I finally realized the role of the parrot. It was always kept in a cage and shouted out words that no one would acknowledge. Women were often kept “caged” by their husbands, meaning there only place was in the home, and caring for children, or even catering parties. No matter what Edna felt, or what she said, she was ignored by her husband. People keep birds caged because they really don’t know of any other way to keep them, and I sometimes feel that men, even today keep their wives at home to care for the home and children, because they don’t know any better. They’ve always known that a wife belongs at home and nowhere else. Even though Edna did not want children, her husband did want them, and Edna had no choice in the matter.
A caged bird is robbed of the most precious of all possessions, freedom, the same was true of Edna. She had no freedom to live her life for herself, and marry Robert whom she really loved. The freedom she found was the sea, which took away her soul, and allowed her a re-birth.
Be consistent with tense! Either write about the book in present tense, or past tense, but not both!