Essay on The Awakening

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Critical Views of The Awakening

The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, is full of ideas and understanding about human nature. In Chopin's time, writing a story with such great attention to sensual details in both men and women caused skepticism among readers and critics. However, many critics have different views with deeper thought given to The Awakening. Symbolism, the interpretation of Edna's suicide, and awakenings play important roles in the analysis of all critics.

Symbolism in The Awakening is interpreted in many ways. It is important to understand the meaning of each explanation of symbolism given by every critic to fully appreciate the novel. Art, for example, becomes a symbol of both freedom and
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However, Edna's suicide leaves many readers unsatisfied and disappointed. Almost everyone has their own interpretation of the ending. Edna's suicide represents her final attempt to fully escape.(Rosowski 46) She escapes her children, her lovers, and most important, time and change (Rosowski 47). As she swims out to sea and death, Edna's mind returns to her childhood dreams of limitlessness. In this sense, the sea symbolizes her dreams to have her youth back because "it had no beginning and no end."(Rosowski 58). Edna imagines herself walking through the Kentucky meadows that she remembered from many years ago. Edna died, but in a way she had created her own limitless awakening.

As the title of the novel reveals, awakenings are the most important as well as the most emotional parts of the story. Edna slowly awakens to her true self. She begins "daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world." She creates her own awakenings with dreams and paintings (Gilbert 104). It is as if she tried to begin again, making a life that she could control and to become a new woman and be herself rather than what she was expected to be. Edna's awakenings were all a part of her defining her own self(Rosowski 44). She feared to have the conventional life that so many women had become trapped in. As she awakens, Edna becomes less and less traditional by stripping

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