Theme Of Symbolism In The Awakening

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In her novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin captures the interest of readers with the use of symbolism. The storyline details a time when women had strict expectations of what they should and should not do. The main character, Edna Pontellier, has a desire to change the role that society expected of her, but this view is not accepted very well. Throughout the story, Chopin uses symbolism to skillfully progress the theme of how Edna is struggling to change and be independent and happy with her life. Symbolism is specifically utilized throughout the novel with Edna’s houses, birds, the sea, and swimming. Symbolism can be seen in the houses where Edna lives. While the story seems to take place mostly on the Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico and in…show more content…
From the first chapter of the book, there is a returning presence of birds. Chopin specifically points out how the first bird is caged. This imprisonment is symbolic of how Edna will soon start to feel. Furthermore, when this parrot swears loudly, it reflects Edna’s feelings. Chopin continues with a paralleling reflection through the birds with the mockingbird. This bird, like the first, is caged and is a direct reflection of what Edna begins to feel next. Moreover, the mockingbird is the only one who can understand the parrot as they both speak Spanish. Through this bird, communication is symbolic of how Mademoiselle is the only one who understands Edna. “Finally, while the birds represent Edna’s conflict with Leonce, Robert, and society, they also depict Edna’s final position in society, her entrapment” (Elz). At the end of the story, Chopin introduces another bird when Edna is beginning to descend into the sea. This bird was obviously injured and having problems flying, but was not caged this time. Symbolically, this bird represents Edna with her belief that she was broken, but not caged anymore (Schraufnagel). “All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water” (Chopin 127). Edna feels troubled, broken, and all alone. Birds are used symbolically to show Edna’s trapped feelings in her role in society, her communication abilities, and her broken
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