Edna Pontellier's The Awakening

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The beginning of the feminist movement in the 1900’s, sparked much attention from those who lived at this time. The changes in attitude brought forth from the feminist movement made many men feel threatened and uncomfortable. In 1899, Kate Chopin published the feminist novel, The Awakening, which created much controversy. The protagonist of the story, Edna Pontellier, emerges from her own “awakening,” and gains her own independence from breaking away from society. However, her struggle with herself and society overtakes her and Edna’s sudden awakening ends in tragedy. In Kate Chopin’s debated novel, The Awakening, the author utilizes the symbol of the sea to represent the rebirth of Edna’s soul and her escape from society. Throughout the…show more content…
The path to the sea, “was no inconsiderable one, consisting as it did of a long, sandy path…” (27). The pathway to the water symbolizes her hardships and obstacles Edna fights throughout the time of her awakening. The sea is a space of immeasurable possibility. It can be either a void of menace or, splendor and strength. Weighing heavy on her, Edna feels both the void of menace and her growing strength. The scene of Edna’s rebirth, leaves the reader with the infinite possibility of ways the story could conclude. However, in the end, Edna finally escapes society completely. When Edna swims out in the water for the first time Chopin gives the reader insight to Edna’s freedom and strength. However, Chopin foreshadows Edna’s tragic death when Edna feels a sense of loneliness and she begins “to lose herself,” (48). Edna will lose herself to the seductive voice of the sea. Edna even sees “a quick vision of death” (48) at this time. She has been reborn, although, even her rebirth could not stop the pain she felt. Waves in the ocean eventually come to an end and crash. The crashing down of the waves in the sea signify the downfall of Edna’s awakening. The very last time Edna swims out in the sea, she repeats the same words, “The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” (189). Edna’s sensuous tone gives her peace. Edna knows her death is near and she is not scared. The sea is a vast, mysterious place. The water gets deeper and deeper as one swims further out into the depths of the sea, being unaware of the creatures lurking beneath their feet. Just as Edna goes on with her life, she goes deeper into her awakening. In The Awakening, Edna did not want to be confined to society’s rules, she wanted to determine her own fate. Edna therefore, ends her own life in the water of Grand Isle in which her rebirth and awakening had
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