Symbolism And Themes In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Title
The Awakening is related to Edna’s internal awakening that she has over the period of the book
The Awakening was originally titled The Solitary Soul
Setting New Orleans and The Grand Isle
Genre Spiritual / artistic realization, romantic style
Historical Information
Kate Chopin 1850-1904
Father was Irish, Mother was French-American
Bilingual- spoke both French and English
Grew up in St.Louis Missouri
Developed a passion for music at a young age
Met and married Oscar Chopin
Themes
Identity: Edna suffers a sort of identity crisis throughout the novel. She no longer wants to be the perfect “mother woman” and decides to try and find her independence
Repression and woman / femininity: I feel like these two are
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Pontellier, "she hasn't been associating with any one. She has abandoned her Tuesdays at home, has thrown over all her acquaintances, and goes tramping about by herself, moping in the street-cars, getting in after dark. I tell you she's peculiar. I don't like it; I feel a little worried over it."
“In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman.“

Symbols
Brids
The parrot in the beginning and the mockingbird are symbolic of communication (between Edna and Reisz) and the birds ability to understand each other
Edna moves out of her house with Leonce into the pigeon house as a way to gain more freedom
Reisz tells Edna if she wants to fly she will need strong wings, or else she will plummet to the ground
The Sea
The ocean is a symbol for freedom and escape
Edna learns to swim for the first time which is one of the first steps toward her desire for independence then she also decides to end her life in the ocean, a place / thing that is completely free
Music
The piano playing of Reisz and Adele symbolize both of these women's roles in the novel. Reisz plays gorgeously and flowingly with strong emotion, that hits Edna, representing her freedom while Adele plays very technically correct, representing her role as the perfect “mother
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Doctor Mandelet thinks Edna’s new behavior and independence is because of an affair, but doesn’t tell Leonce, he says Edna should be given more alone time
Leonce leaves Edna alone when he leaves for business so without him or the children Edna rejects her lifestyle
She moves into the pigeon house and decides she belongs to no one
Edna has an affair with Alcée but is never emotionally attached
Edna has also made a new best friend and sort of mentor, Mademoiselle Reisz, who is an unmarried, childless, pianist who embodies the independent women Edna wants to be
Reisz is the only person who knows of Robert and Edna’s secret love
Robert returns to New Orleans telling Edna his true feelings for her, even though he says they could never be together (because of her marriage)
Edna says she is independent and they could be together happily but Robert refuses.
Edna leaves Robert to go see Adele, who has had a dangerous childbirth. Adele notices Edna’s distance and knows her relationship with Robert has intensified. She tell Edna to think of her children
Edna returns to her house to find no Robert, but he left a goodbye

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