The Symbolism Of Birds Throughout Chopin 's The Awakening

1564 WordsFeb 24, 20167 Pages
The Symbolism of Birds in Chopin’s The Awakening In the 1899 novella, The Awakening, Kate Chopin illustrates the social oppression that women experienced during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). The protagonist in the novella, Edna Pontellier, reflects the progressive women of the late 1800s who began to question the traditional gender roles of society. In contrast to customary women such as Adele Ratignolle, the model character in the story who displays very high standards of being a wife and a mother, Edna acknowledges her sexuality and individual identity. These recognitions give Edna a sense of freedom that other women in her society are unable to experience. However, Edna realizes that her position as a woman in her husband’s southern, creole culture prevents her from advancing into complete independence, which results in her tragic fate of suicide (Chopin 652). Edna could only escape her oppression by swimming out “where no woman had swum before” (Chopin 583). Chopin suggests that the only way for Edna to defeat her role as a domesticated woman was to seek death. This reveals the cultural limitations placed on women that are viewed as possessions rather than people; for Edna knew that she could never truly live in freedom during a time when she was valued only for childbearing and housekeeping. To demonstrate the evolving women in the late nineteenth century who began to seek rights further than customary gender roles enabled, Chopin uses birds to symbolize the

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