symbolaw Symbols and Symbolism - Clothing as a Symbol in The Awakening

839 Words 4 Pages
Use of Clothing as a Symbol in The Awakening


In the novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin takes Edna Pontellier on a journey of self-discovery. In doing this, she uses many symbols to show the relationship between Edna and the world. Clothing, or rather, the lack thereof, displays this relationship well. As Edna progresses throughout the novel, she discards more and more layers of the confining ìclothingî that surrounds her body and soul. By taking off her clothing, one piece at a time, she disobeys the rules that society has set for her, and in doing this, she exerts her independence. In this summer voyage, Edna becomes a free woman.


In the Victorian society that Edna lives in, the proper attire for
…show more content…
Lebrun in her home because she must put on the restricting clothing once again. This means to her that she would have to give up some of her new found freedom.


Edna's marriage and the symbol of that marriage symboize another aspect of clothing that she feels she must dispose of. Edna becomes more and more distant from Leonce, her husband; the man she was expected to, but could not, love. She becomes angry with Leonce when she realizes he refers to her as his possession and fully believes it. He complains to Edna about the way she carries herself and their household and begs of her to act more the way a conventional woman would. Edna is not prepared for conventionality, and the final straw in dealing with her constricting husband finally snaps after his complaints. She throws her wedding ring to the ground as a symbol of discarding the man she did not love. In her eyes, her relationship with Leonce only stood to hold her back from the freedom she searched for, and shedding the ring liberated her from his conformist rules.


As the novel continues, Edna discards more layers of her old self, revealing her new free soul. Edna refers to the social role of women in terms of clothing. She discards this ìclothingî more and more as the story continues. As the clothing disappears, her rebellion against society increases. She defies conventional feminine behavior. During this time of self-realization, she becomes close to Mademoiselle Reisz, a

Related Documents