Essay on The Awakening

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The Awakening

Analytical Essay THE AWAKENING Throughout Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening, numerous scenes of birth and renewal are depicted. Various symbols placed throughout the book show Edna Pontellier’s awakenings. For instance, many references are made to oceans and water. It is in the water that Edna has her first rebirth, but it is also the place where she chooses to die. Water symbolizes life, which is the reason that Edna’s renewal takes place there, but it also symbolizes darkness and death. Birds, which are featured frequently in the story, symbolize Edna, and in many cases they foreshadow what’s to become of her, or they show her renewal of life. The imagery of birds throughout the book is used to symbolize freedom, which is
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Birds are also major symbolic images in the story. Flight, which is associated with birds, acts as a stand-in for awakening. The ability to spread your wings and fly is a symbolic theme that occurs often in the novel. Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna "the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings” (138). She uses birds to forecast Edna's future and evaluate Edna's strength. In order to soar like a bird, Edna must be strong, but Mademoiselle Reisz realizes that Edna is weak. Reisz says, "it is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth" (138). Mademoiselle Reisz understands that Edna is not like herself and cannot fight society. Later, when Edna realizes the hopelessness of her situation, birds, once again, symbolically foreshadow her fate. Upon reaching the beach on her final walk, Edna looks around and sees: "A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water" (189). This bird is the final omen that reflects Mademoiselle Reisz's words: "it is sad to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth" (138). The bird, disabled and weakened because of its broken wing, falls back to earth and suffers defeat. Edna soon does the same when she kills herself because she does not have "the

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