Politics And Allegory In Chopin's The Awakening

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Keir Nason AP English Literature and Composition Mrs. Schroeder January 3, 2018 Politics and literature are far from strange bedfellows. Social commentary and allegory have been tools in the literary toolbox since Ancient Greece, with Plato’s Allegory of The Cave being one of the earliest forms of the device. Science fiction is an entire genre that, at least to a degree, is based upon the premise of looking at the problems of today through the eyes of tomorrow. Oftentime, authors seek to tackle the issues of their time within their writing, and Kate Chopin was no different when she published her final work The Awakening in 1899. At the time of The Awakening’s release, many works strived to address the rights of women, with the Suffragette…show more content…
The ocean, and by extension swimming, serve to symbolize liberation and the pursuit of that thereof. Edna grew up as a respectable woman in Kentucky, a landlocked state with no land connection to the ocean. After settling into marriage with Léonce Pontellier, she moves out to coastal Louisiana and spends summers out in Grand Isle, surrounded by ocean. Grand Isle is where Edna meets Robert, and where she experiences her awakening. While there, Edna begins learning to swim, and as she learns to control the water she in turn discovers that she has agency over her own body. When she comes back from the island, this new outlook on life clashes with her husband’s old world values, and he endeavors to stop what he sees as utter madness. At one point, a family doctor recommends to Léonce that Edna spend time at her ancestral home, far away from the water, to return her behavior to what he knows as normal. Edna expresses a dislike of and actively avoids certain parts of society, but cannot fully separate herself from the motherly duties forced onto her by traditional gender roles, unlike her muse Mademoiselle Reisz. These duties, ultimately, prove to be the fetters that cause Edna to sink downward, and lead her to end her life in the same ocean where it truly

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