Essay on symbolaw Use of Symbols and Symbolism in The Awakening
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Register to read the introduction…Birds are major symbolic images in the narrative. They symbolize the ability to communicate (the mockingbird and parrot) and entrapment of women (the two birds in cages; the desire for flight; the pigeon house). Flight is another symbol associated with birds, and 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. Edna escapes her home, her husband, her life, by leaving for the pigeon house. Mlle. Reisz lectures Edna on the need for strong wings in artistic endeavors.
Clothing is also symbolic. Edna is fully dressed when first introduced; slowly over the course of the novel she removes her clothes. This symbolizes the shedding of the societal rules in her life and her growing awakening and stresses her physical and external self. As she disrobes, the reader is presented with an internal voyeuristic view. As MacCurdy points out, "Edna's dress opposes external nature, but more importantly, it begins to oppose her inner nature. A division exists between her and her environment as well as between her social character and her awakening instincts" (59). When she commits suicide she is finally naked, she has shed everything she has in her quest for selfhood. But it is not only Edna who is symbolized in clothes, Adele is more "careful" of her face in the seventh chapter and wears a veil. Both she and Madame Leburn constantly make clothes to cover the body, and the woman