The Awakening Bird Analysis

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Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening opens with a scene of two birds, emphasizing that the motif of birds later within the novel will play an important part with setting the constant metaphor they bring. Throughout the whole novel the motif of birds is a metaphor for the Victorian women during that period -- caged birds serve as reminders of Edna’s entrapment and the entrapment of Victorian women in general. Edna makes many attempts to escape her cage (husband, children, and society), but her efforts only take her into other cages, such as the pigeon house. Edna views this new home as a sign of her independence, but the pigeon house represents her inability to remove herself from her former life, due to the move being just “two steps away” (122).…show more content…
Allez vous-en! Sapristi!” (1) (Go away! Go away! For God’s sake). These words immediately hints at the tragedy of the novel, as the bird echoes the phrases of rejection that it has heard many times. Although Madame Lebrun’s parrot speaks English, French, and “a little Spanish,” it also speaks a “language which nobody understood, unless it was the mocking-bird that hung on the other side of the door, whistling his fluty notes. . . .” (1). Caged and misunderstood, the parrot’s position represents Edna’s -- Edna also speaks a language that nobody, not even her husband, friends, or lovers, understand. It seems then, that Edna must have the mockingbird role-model -- someone who understands her mysterious language as the mockingbird understands the parrot’s. If the parrot stands for Edna, the mockingbird must represents Mademoiselle Reisz, the unorthodox and self-reliant pianist who inspires Edna’s independence in the novel. Like the parrot, Edna is valued by society for her physical appearance, and like the mockingbird, Mademoiselle Reisz is valued by society for her musical talent. Although the parrot and the mockingbird are different, the two birds can communicate since they share (like Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz metaphorically) the common experience of being caged. The metaphor of the pet bird applies not only to Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz but also to most women in the nineteenth century. They are never asked to voice their own opinions, the women are instead expected to repeat the ideas that society voiced to them through the bars of their metaphorical
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