The Awakening Symbolism Essay

The Importance of the Sea in The Awakening Essay

830 Words4 Pages

The Importance of the Sea in The Awakening

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…show more content…

It will not be until months later that the voice of the sea will pull her back to it with its promises of freedom.

The voice of the sea pulls her back with reminiscence of her childhood. Edna recalls an incident of running through "a meadow that seemed as big as the ocean" (Chopin 60) This connection of the seemingly endless field and the wide expanse of the ocean leads to a realization for Edna. Her life is no longer as plain and simple as it had been for many years. Suddenly, she feels like a little girl running through an unending field, "unthinking and unguided" (Chopin 61). She does not know what she wants from life anymore. She has a husband and children, but the thought of them lacks the feelings of pleasure and love that she should have for them. Instead, they are holding her back, preventing her from running across that wide expanse of grass which symbolizes freedom. She realizes this when she returns home, despondent over what seems to be a loss of her new-found freedom and despondent over the realization that Robert will never gie up society's traditions to be with her, a married woman.

Edna's feelings of despondency fade as the sea's spell reaches out for her again. The narrator points out that "[the] voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in

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Essay on Use of Symbolism in Chopin’s The Awakening

740 Words3 Pages

Use of Symbolism in Chopin’s The Awakening

--Passage from Chapter X, pgs. 49-50
“But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence. She could have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water.
A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before.
She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and…show more content…

It is an exciting moment because it is one of the first times that Edna Pontellier, the protagonist, feels giddy with herself and her accomplishments.

In the preceding passage, Edna Pontellier swims for the first time by herself. Much is symbolized and foreshadowed in this passage. Throughout the summer, Edna’s husband, Mr. Pontellier, and many other people have been trying to teach her. However, Edna was never able to swim with the help of others. The fact that she finally is able to swim unaided symbolizes Edna’s awakening sense of independence and self-reliance. The ocean parallels Edna’s feelings. It is described with diction such as “space and solitude”, “vast expanse” and “unlimited.” The words “significant import…given her to control the working of her body and her soul” also support this. Edna realizes she is in control of herself and can attain happiness by her own means. Similarly, the control Edna has over her body suggests her awakening sense of sexuality. It is around the time of this swim that Edna acutely develops feelings for Robert LeBrun.

The ocean that Edna swims in could also symbolize her awakening as a rebirth of herself. She is described as a “tottering, stumbling, clutching child” when in the water. Throughout the novel, Edna is often portrayed as a child. Rather than slowly easing into her independence at a rate that she could handle and control, Edna seems to throw herself into it as a child

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