Kate Chopin's The Awakening
In the story about Edna Pontellier a major theme is her omitted self discovery. In the story we can see how Chopin uses style, tone and content to make the reader understand how it was for a person challenging many of the beliefs of the society at the beginning of the twentieth century.
I believe there are many points in the story that can be considered to be very relevant to the time it was written, expressing ideas of the approaching feminist movement and building up an awareness of what was happening to women and the forthcoming feminist movement. Many of the ideas that are expressed in the story concern both the women’s movement and an individual woman ...view middle of the document...
..Could speak a little Spanish, and also a language that nobody understood" (Chopin p.4).
This can be related to Edna who also feels trapped and believes that it is her society that that has imprisoned her. Edna longs to leave her submissive role as the obedient, loving wife and mother that society forces her into. She is longing for something different, something more exciting and of her own choice and free will. However, she cannot fully break free so she makes a conscious effort to separate herself from the people that hold her back. In her marriage to Mr. Pontellier she is being suffocated by him as he keeps her from becoming free. She becomes isolated like the bird in the cage.
Flight can be associated with birds and the ability to spread the wings and fly. This can often be seen in the novel. In this quote Alcee Arobin tells Edna;
“Well, for instance, when I left her to-day, she put her arms around me and felt my shoulder blades, to see if my wings were strong, she said. `The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.’ “Whither would you soar?”
Here we can see how she uses birds to predict the future of Edna. If Edna wants to be able to soar like the bird she has to be strong. However Arobin knows that she isn’t and that she cannot fight society. Throughout the story she meets birds escaping and with broken wings. This is probably symbols of Edna’s hopeless situation. At the end the reader leans how Edna’s life and death is compared to the bird:
”A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water." (Chopin, p.125)