Water Symbolism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin was published in 1899, during a time when males heavily dominated society. Being a domestic housewife and playing your role as a subordinate female, but also a motherly figure was your duty. Edna Pontellier, one of the main characters in The Awakening, begins to realize over time that it was not the life she wanted to live and has an “awakening” the title refers to. April Wheeler, in the Revolutionary Road, a 2008 film, based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, displays similar characteristics. Through an increase in freedom and self-awareness these women slowly gain control over the lives that are so heavily controlled by patriarchal society. In the beginning of the novel, Edna is introduced as a woman who “failed…show more content…
The ocean reflects Edna’s process of “awakening” and her increasing urge and attempt to break free from these social conventions as she finally begins to understand her individuality. Edna refuses to fulfill her wifely and motherly duties, she becomes aware of her sexuality as she has has multiple partners, and even moves out of her “house on Esplanade Street” in an attempt to be financially independent (131). All these acts, serve as attempts to escape from the eternal role as a mother and housewife. Freedom, for Edna, is the act of disengaging from obligations towards her husband and children, and the release from social order. In a sense, Edna’s death is due to her failure to balance a sense of self and freedom with the demands of life. The only way to elude herself of the responsibilities of her life was to embrace death and drown herself in the ocean. In her death, Edna rejects the social belief that a woman’s duty are found in motherhood. At the last moment, she thinks of Leonce and the children, she admits they were a part of her life, “but they need not have thought they could possess her, body and soul” (190). This also reflects societal notion telling her to be submissive, to tend to the house, and adore her…show more content…
In the end, Frank takes control of her dream to move to Paris by accepting the promotion at his job, but also takes control of her body by telling her she cannot have an abortion. However, April resists the conformity of motherhood and marriage and takes a stand by taking back control of her body and the baby inside her body. April was aware of the latest possible date to abort the baby, yet she went through with the procedure knowing it could potentially kill her. There is a significance in the movie title because it could reflect April’s character as a revolutionary woman. She rejects the life she has lived since she married Frank and redeems herself by accepting death and freeing
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