Essay on Edna Pontellier's Awakening

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Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening has been both criticized and praised since its time of publication in 1899. Its scandalous nature shocked the sophisticates of the time for its frank treatment of a sin so egregious as adultery; its lack of moral repercussions for the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, led many to believe that Chopin excused, if not condoned, the act. Because of this, the novel didn’t get the recognition and analysis it deserved until well after its publication. What seems like a simple story is truly much deeper; Chopin’s use of symbolism creates a much richer narrative that lends itself to much more personal reflection and thought on the part of the reader. The central symbol of The Awakening by Kate Chopin is the sea; its …show more content…
This stage of Edna’s journey is comparable to the stage in the ocean tides where the tide is just turning from high to low. While she has made no specific actions yet, it is clear that her discovery will no longer let her stall in complacency. As the critic Carol Stone puts it, “the sea… represents… the source of all life, facilitating rebirth, so that Edna in her first moments of being able to swim feels like a child who has learned to walk” (Stone 61).It is clear to the reader at this point that something within Edna has changed. Over the next section of the novel, Edna draws farther away from an “irresolvable conflict between Edna’s vision of herself as an independent woman and the social forces of Creole Louisiana near the end of the nineteenth century” (Thornton 6002). Her rejection of society’s expectations is seen in her increasingly romantic flirtations and eventual passionate love with young Robert LeBrun, leaving the home of her husband while he is away on business and renting her own home, an association with a woman who almost constitutes as a social outcast, and finally a purely physical affair with a man who is not her husband. In order for Edna’s awakening to be fully realized, Edna must leant to reject the “prescribed social role of woman, namely the aquiescent creature of her designated lord and guardian” (Fox-Genovese 285). This section of Edna’s

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