The Awakening Symbolism

836 Words 4 Pages
In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, both protagonists attempt to break free of the initial social confines they were presented with to understand and sate the universal desires for love and freedom. By using both subliminal and explicit symbolism in the recurrence of family ties, hair, and water, both Hurston and Chopin state that the regulations of society hinder those living in it, namely women.
Janie’s marriages and Edna’s children have one constant that display the societal expectations that have plagued both women throughout their lives. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie struggles to assimilate into varying societies from Eatonville to The Muck. In all of these situations, Janie is harmed by her husbands’ perceptions of her. By treating Janie as a paragon of women, Janie is unable to be a member of society as she wishes, concealed from the men who desire her and the women who envy her. Janie’s husbands are symbolic of human nature when faced with beauty: choosing
…show more content…
As Leonce often berates her for not giving attention to the children as is socially proper, Edna begins to realize that she is not meant to be a mother, or adopt the motherly role that society has given her. Edna’s children, much like Janie’s marriages, are symbols of love destroyed by societal norms. Edna loves her children; she enjoys playing with them and buying them gifts, but her love for them is ruined by societal pressure, ultimately surmounting in her children being sent away. The same is true for Janie: she loved Joe until he became blinded by arrogance and made her into someone to envy and desire. Janie’s husbands and Edna’s children depict the strained societal molds the protagonists are expected to fit, emphasizing the message that true happiness, love, and freedom are inhibited by social

Related Documents