Domesticity In The Awakening

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From Fitzgerald 's boats that beat on against the current to Maya Angelou who still rises with the certainty of tides, the ocean has long represented and radiated a sense of power. It can push against you, holding you under its clear blue weight; it can pull your body close in a suffocating embrace with each deep swell; it can reel back like a serpent, twisting around your toes and licking your heels. The Awakening by Kate Chopin ties the water’s wild and sensuous tendrils to the difficulties of women in the 19th century who attempted to attain the freedom of the ocean without drowning in its loneliness. Chopin depicts the struggle of women who rejected domesticity to retain their sexuality rather than living in solitude through three character’s …show more content…
While Adele and Edna lay on the beach, engaged in casual conversion, at Adele’s request Edna describes a large, grassy field from her childhood: “a meadow that seemed as big as the ocean ... She threw out her arms as if swimming when she walked” (19). Chopin compares this grassy landscape from Edna’s childhood to an ocean, a symbol of force traditionally associated with recklessness and freedom. As they sit in the shade near the vast ocean, Adele’s physical contact with her brings Edna back to a romantic time in her young adulthood when motherly duties didn’t define or confine her: “The action was at first a little confusing to Edna, but she soon lent herself readily to the Creole’s gentle caress [...] At a very early age - perhaps it was when she traversed the ocean of waving grass - she remembered that she had been passionately enamored of a dignified and sad-eyed cavalry officer” (20). By describing Edna as “passionately enamored” during her younger years, Chopin emphasizes how Edna felt free from social pressures while still retaining her sexuality. Through Adele’s unexpected caress, and with the ocean in such close proximity to their interaction, this body of water - a powerful force - also begins to symbolize these feelings of romance and sexuality from Edna’s

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