Edna's Transformation in The Awakening by Kate Chopin Essay

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin, is a story of a woman who breaks free from the restraints put on her by society. During the first part of the story, Edna was a normal wife and mother; she was restricted to her stereotype and expected to stay at home, be loyal to her husband, and care for her children. As the story progresses and Edna redefines herself, we eventually are reading about a new character entirely. She ignores the internalized concept of being a mother and wife and becomes a new woman. She cheats on her husband, disregards her children, and defies her societal expectations. At the end of the story, Edna Pontellier commits suicide to free herself from her confusing and scandalous life. During the first phase of Edna’s…show more content…
Edna becomes familiar with the idea that she needs to do something about herself so that she doesn’t continue her colorless, stereotypical life; she has to drift away from her regular routine and disenthrall. As Edna “awakens”, her objective becomes more defined; she wants to escape and free herself. Chopin often subtly compares Edna to a bird throughout the story; In the very beginning of the book, Edna is compared to a caged bird: “A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door,” (5). It is obvious now, after reading the book, that Chopin knew exactly what would become of Edna. A caged bird, when freed, often dies because it is not familiar with the wild; this is exactly what happens to Edna Pontellier. Later in the story, Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (138). This is a more definitive foreshadowing than the caged bird; when Edna dies, it’s because she is unable to find the strength to swim back, she’s weak. She pushed herself too far and led herself astray mentally and literally; if she had stayed in her cage and had confined herself to a simple, mundane life, she would never be lost. Kate Chopin told a meaningful story that a
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