Freedom In Chopin's The Awakening

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In the final chapters of The Awakening, Chopin utilizes Edna’s confirmation of her freedom and her actions that facilitate her escape from society to promote the work’s theme that advocates for an increase in female equality through the denial of societal expectations and oppression. After Adele’s childbirth, Mandelet contrasts Edna with the “unimpressionable women” whom Adele should have requested instead of her, characterizing Edna’s dependence on outside opinions (111). However, while Mandelet’s words correctly identify Edna during her time previously living with Leonce and her children, his analysis fails to account for her increased independence that she establishes throughout the book with her resistance to Leonce’s commands. These actions …show more content…

In addition to her actions demonstrating defiance against the social taboo of public nudity, they also symbolically represent her overall growth within the novel with her removing society’s shackles that held her the previous summer. Furthermore, Chopin introduces a contrast with the final bird motif that describes an injured creature “circling disabled down, into the water,” alluding to Reisz’s previous words encouraging Edna to fly above society instead of falling to its whims (115). Though this final symbol represents Edna’s ultimate failure to rise completely above social judgment, as she commits suicide instead of living alone as Reisz does, it also underscores work’s theme of the necessity of female freedom through denial of traditional expectations, as the current community still holds power over even those who attempt to live for themselves. Utilizing Edna’s development throughout the novel, The Awakening’s final chapters illustrate the culmination of her growth with her independent thoughts and desire for liberty, and with her act of suicide, the work highlights the pressure of society to conform and the need to resist such

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