The Importance of the Sea in The Awakening Essay

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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
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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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