Inequality In The Awakening

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Within the painting “Ophelia” by Sir John Everett Millais, the inherent tranquility of Ophelia in the water accurately parallels Edna’s own feelings towards the motif of the sea, and the detailed elements of nature in the image exhibits the concept of a women’s inherent relationship with nature that is further perceived in “The Awakening.” Consequently, this painting best accompanies Chopin’s message in her novel, which conveys that the significant relationship between women and nature intrinsically restrains women from truly ever having freedom and independence, and therefore pushes women to continuously search for a place to have individuality. Throughout the entire novel, the sea was a representation of individuality and freedom. It was…show more content…
At the end, Edna committed suicide in the sea because it was where she could be free from societal and natural restraints, and where she was innately at peace. In the painting, Ophelia exhibits this same kind of calmness, as it appears she is giving herself over to the control of the water and is doing so in a serene manner. It is blatant that both Edna and Ophelia from the particular painting find such peace in the water because it is the only place where their true freedom relies. It is known that Ophelia was increasingly oppressed by society and male figures within “Hamlet”, which increasingly limited her independence. In Edna’s circumstance, the responsibilities of being a mother and a wife drove Edna to continuously reject her duties and fling herself outwards of societal norms in hope that she would grasp her individuality in the process. In a sense, Edna was searching for her life as a child, where her future was full of dreams and the days were spent with idleness and no direction. The childhood blue meadow where Edna felt that was compared as…show more content…
In the painting, aspects of nature such as bright flowers and vegetation that surround and are held by Ophelia, inherently illuminate the intertwining relationship between women and nature. It is clear that in the image, the importance of nature in relation to Ophelia was heavily emphasized based on the vibrant colors used to depict it. Within the novel itself, nature’s own inevitable control over a woman’s life forces Edna to realize that she was never going to gain true individuality. Nature’s control was exemplified specifically when, during labor, Madame Ratignolle loses all of her typical, perfect characteristics. Simply, she was described as her face being “drawn and pinched, her sweet blue eyes haggard and unnatural. All of her beautiful hair had been drawn back and plaited (Chopin 148).” So, it is clear that Chopin was trying to assert that during childbirth, each woman is stripped to their bare, and is put through a painful, unforgiving process that is essentially a curse placed on them by nature itself. In the end, it is the biological role of all woman to give birth and care for their offspring, and is a natural phenomenon that is impossible to escape from once one has a child. Although many consider this process to be a beautiful aspect of nature, just like one might perceive the beauty in the bright flowers held by Ophelia, Edna

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