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Symbolism in The Awakening

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Mandi Nero 4/26/09 Period 6 Ms. Burnside EH3 Symbols in The Awakening In the novel The Awakening, there are many powerful symbols that add meaning to the text and emphasize the point that Kate Chopin is trying to make. Chopin writes this novel to show that marriage back in the 19th century was not great. The expectations that women were supposed to live up to were hard and mind numbing. Thus her main heroine, Edna, rebels against the status quo and starts "a new life." She goes against all the morals in the Creole community, and in this we see symbolism. Whether it is art, clothes, learning to swim, or birds, symbolism is found in all these things that seem so small and insignificant. But once delved into, we see the deeper meaning in the context. When Chopin first introduces art, it reinforces the theme of freedom, but also failure. It's not known right away that there may be something within the art, showing a person's individuality. Art is individuality. It sets a person apart from another, because no two things are alike. ...read more.


In the novel, it talks about her stripping down and admiring herself in a mirror at one point. She also sleeps clothe less, and while she has shed her clothes, it's within the privacy of her own room, not in the open. But not only is Edna clothes a symbol, but also Adele, Mme. Lebrun, "the woman in black," and Mme. Reisz. Both Adele and Mme. Lebrun constantly make clothes that cover up their bodies entirely. And Adele also takes to wearing a veil as to protect her face. Also, throughout the entire novel, we realize that both "the woman in black" and Mme. Reisz never change their clothes. This symbolizes that they dare not go against society's rules and would rather distance them from any physical attachment. In the end of the novel, when Edna commits suicide, she is out in the open and fully naked. She has shown her true self to the world, and she's not afraid of the consequences to come. She has awakened from her own self; she has woken up from how she is supposed to be, to how she wants to be. ...read more.


But in the end it's not enough, because society just won't let it be. She moved into the pigeon even before she received L´┐Żonce's response, which in the end turned out to be no and he was furious when she had gone ahead without his permission. So to cover it up, he said that there was work to be done, so as to not be embarrassed by his wife's sudden change of thinking for herself. In the end, she is a free woman, no longer caged in by society. In order to read this novel, it is important to know the meaning of these symbols, or else when reading it the reader may only see the words and not the meaning behind them. Chopin is trying to make a point and to prove that marriage isn't all that it's cut out for. She's mainly emphasizing this for women back in the 19th century. They weren't free, they never could be free. They had to live under society's expectations and only those. Today it's different though. It doesn't matter if a woman marries or has sex before they're married. They can date, not just be given to a man because he has a wealthy dowry. Today, women are free, with strong wings and independent wills. ...read more.

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