Freedom And Freedom In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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When confronted by oppression, there are two ways to respond. People either embrace this tyranny and conform to its ideals, or they take a stand and question and search for an end to this unjust treatment. Chopin, writing her novel The Awakening in the turn of the century, uses the internal turmoil Edna faces as a symbolic reference to the sprouting ideals of feminism and resisting the gender inequalities that society has imposed on women. Edna, like many women of her time, is caught between this societal obligation of living up to the preconceived ideas of a woman’s role in society and a personal desire to obtain more autonomy and freedom. Chopin combines this struggle with an ambiguous ending to highlight the importance of freedom of…show more content…
The first section of this book, Edna is on summer vacation in Grand Isle. While there, Edna is exposed to freedoms and independence she has never really experienced before. During the week Mr. Pontellier is in New Orleans working and their children are free to run around and play wherever they want; Edna is free to do whatever she pleases. She experiences pure independence and autonomy. This shifts, however, when the vacation is over and the entire Pontellier family returns home to New Orleans. Now back at home, Edna must resume all the responsibilities she did not worry about while on vacation. However, being exposed to the sweet taste of independence while in Grand Isle, Edna returns to New Orleans embracing her new identity rather than just being a housewife who practices purity, piety, domesticity, and submissiveness. This new attitude is important to notice, because it helps to understand a crucial event in the novella. Completely enraged by her husband’s behavior, Edna takes off her wedding ring, throws it on the floor, and attempts to crush the ring with her foot. Edna is question her marriage; she longs to be free from the control of a man. Edna wishes she can experience that same independence she had while in Grand Isle which causes this fit of rage. However, Edna eventually puts her wedding ring back on because…show more content…
Throughout history, women were always deemed the inferior sex, a belief that manifested itself into American society. Women, beginning to strongly dislike the expectations they were supposed to live up to, began to resent these customs and traditions and question the injustice they faced. The novella begins with a very blatant symbol: the bird trapped in the cage is symbolic of all the women in society who feel as though they are trapped by gender inequality. Chopin wants all women to embrace their wants and desires; Chopin calls on women who long for independence to finally escape from their cage and find their independence. The ending of the novella remains ambiguous. Edna, who has learns how to swim, ventures out deep into the sea. The novella ends with her swimming far, growing weak, and having memories flash in her head. The ambiguity of the ending highlights the struggles of women in society; Chopin implies that women can respond to this social injustice in two ways. Some women may end up like Edna. These women float away farther and farther from the shore, never able to find the strength within themselves to once again regain the land they strayed from. These are the women who never break free from their cage of oppression, and never get to experience the sweet taste of independence. However, there is a second option. Instead of drifting

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