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The Awakening Symbolism Essay

1644 words - 7 pages

A Journey for the Lost Soul
The Awakening by Kate Chopin was written during the 1800’s and was published in the year of 1899. During this time, the novel struck controversial subjects using a strong feminist tone, which underlined Chopin’s views on sex, marriage, and women of that period. In this novel, it is evident that freedom and feminism are used as interrelations of each other to express her feelings towards each subject. Some characters in The Awakening served as an encouraging force pushing Edna to go forth with her self-discoveries. In her journey, Edna travels through many stages of freedom to find herself; from exploring her creativity, to being freely aware of her sexually ...view middle of the document...

The compelling evidence that “Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman” (Chopin 19) only embarks WRONG WORD HERE on the perception that she is unlike many women of her time. For example, Mrs. Ratignolle is a foil because she is the very opposite of Mrs. Pontellier. She is a proud wife and mother who adores her children, and “produces a new baby at regular intervals” (Green). In contrast to Adele Ratignolle, who follows the conformed path of women during this time, Edna Pontellier only envies freedom from all conceptions of a women’s role in her time. One type of freedom Chopin reflects on is the freedom of self-expression through art. This is manifested when Edna’s artistic abilities begin to awaken and she begins to paint portraits of people and other objects such as a basket of fruit. Mrs. Ratignolle starts to see huge improvements in Mrs. Pontellier's art work when she says, “Surely, this Bavarian peasant is worthy of framing; and this basket of apples! never have I seen anything more lifelike. One might almost be tempted to reach out a hand and take one" (Chopin 143). With this being said, one may assume that Edna has been hard at work trying to perfect her art work because her first attempt was not pleasing to her. However, in actuality she is using her time to free herself from the realities of her life as it is, and devotes her attention to perfecting her art work because this is one of the few things in which she has control over.
Carole Stone states in “The Female Artist in Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Birth and Creativity”, “Rather than returning to the dependency of childhood, she goes forward to a new conception of self, a definition of herself as artist”. This statement is highlighting Chopin’s choice to use art as an indication of Edna’s re-birth through artistry. As Edna arose as an artist, her husband was much less supportive of her and it is illustrated through his statement of how she should not “let the family go to the devil” (Chopin 147) as she paints. His bold disapproval of her choice to paint generated by his belief that she should spend more time tending to the needs of her family, does not stifle her determination to create new visual renderings, but encourages her to move onward to eventually find and/or re-create herself.
Along with providing the source of Edna’s quest for self-re-creation through painting, Chopin explores deeper into the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Pontellier as she develops Edna’s character. It is clear that Edna does not want to be owned as anyones property. Therefore, she searches for freedom every way possible, even in her marriage. Edna begins to realize what it means to really own herself when she states to her friend, “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear […]” (Chopin 122). Cynthia Griffin Wolff identifies this as “Edna's most confident step toward freedom” in her critical...

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