Posted at 10.16.2018
In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, the fundamental meaning is imparted to the reader by using explicit symbolism. The major role of the utilization of symbolism in the novel is to attempt to draw a connection between the world that Edna recognizes and her several awakenings and make that link more powerful and compelling. Examined in this essay are three dominant symbols of interest which can be birds, the sea and the homes Edna resides in. The avian allusions and symbols that are present throughout the storyplot serve to symbolize the capability to take a flight and the freedom it allows. The sources to oceans and seas within the novel are symbolic of freedom and empowerment as it pertains to Edna. Further houses permit the reader to see the various transformations that Edna undergoes. The Awakening, compiled by Kate Chopin, is filled with numerous symbols and motifs that allow the reader to build up a deeper knowledge of its subject matter.
The first icon to be analyzed is the recurring indication of birds present throughout the book. When birds come in the novel they provide as a representation of Edna's self applied, and her thoughts. The novel starts not with a primary persona speaking but with parrot, "Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi!" (pp. 3). This declaration from the bird translates to "Disappear completely! Disappear completely! For heaven's sake!" It can be inferred that these lines are representative of the thoughts that are moving through Edna's brain for much of the novel. Much like the bird which "could speak just a little Spanish, and also a language which no one realized, " (pp. 3) Edna struggles to talk her true needs and her true feelings to other people because they could not understand. Edna needs to depart her role as a compliant wife, and acquiescent mother that the Creole population requires she be. Further the parrot mentioned above is caged symbolizing the entrapment of Edna by society and its prospects for females of that era. Perhaps the only other character in the novel that understands Edna is Mademoiselle Reisz, who stirs Edna's soul with music, and gives advice to her. Edna informs Arobin that Mademoiselle Reisz:
Put her arms around me and believed my shoulder blades, to see if my wings were strong, she said, 'The parrot that could soar above the level plain of custom and prejudice will need to have strong wings. It really is a sad spectacle to start to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back again to globe. ' (pp. 103)
It appears that Reisz knows beforehand that Edna will attempt to take a flight and expresses an uncertainty as to whether or not Edna is strong enough to succeed. Mademoiselle Reisz is alert Edna in this passing that her air travel may ultimately end in inability but Edna does not receive this subject matter for she is "not thinking about any extraordinary plane tickets. I only half understand her. " Reisz is wanting to help her with this trip by inferring that she is not strong enough, and may fail but it falls on deaf ears as Edna will not comprehend what Reisz is trying to do. The reader encounters birds towards the conclusion of the book throughout a pivotal moment in time in Edna's life, "All over the white beach, up and down, there was no living part of sight. A parrot with a destroyed wing was conquering the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, right down to this particular. " (pp. 113) Edna observes this as she is about to head into the sea and go through her final awakening. This parrot with a broken wing embodies Edna representing that she, much like the bird, struggles to travel away and avoid from things that confine her. Further it also illustrates that Edna is already deceased before she enters water like the parrot that is doomed to loss of life.
The second image to be examined is the recurrent appearance of the sea/sea. Of all symbols in the book, the ocean appears most regularly. Edna regularly connects the ocean with a certain personal free will even when she is a child, "[a meadow] looked as large as the seashe threw out her forearms as if going swimming when she strolled. " (pp. 21) Plainly Edna feels flexibility and enjoyment in the above mentioned passage illustrated through the mention of the widely open ocean. Further, it is in the sea located faraway from the Grand Isle where we monitor on of Edna's awakenings. Before this awakening she has already discovered how to swim, and when she makes an attempt to swim out into the ocean for the first time a certain metamorphosis occurs, "A sense of exultation overtook her. . . She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her power. She wanted to swim far away, where no girl has swum before. " (pp. 37) This arena is critically important in the progression of the book because with her discovery of her capacity to swim she also realizes that her life can be an unfilled shell. Perhaps this realization acts to assist her in the changes that she'll come across later in the novel. But there is an aspect of foreshadowment in the brand "she grew daring and reckless, overestimating her durability. " Though swimming in the sea gives her many positive thoughts of freedom she's not the durability to swim for longer periods of time and as a result will drown. Her aspire to "swim far away, where no girl has swum before" is a noble desire to escape from her entrapment credited to Creole culture, and she relatively accomplishes this wish but ultimately fails with her demise. The ocean in the book allows Edna some of the thoughts of freedom, but it also serves as an instrument of her demise; "Exhaustion was pressing after and over having her. Good-bye, because I love you He did not know; he didn't understand. He would never understand it was too late; the shore was way behind her, and her strength was removed. " (pp. 116) Edna is convinced that the sea allows her expressing herself and avoid from the energy that is exenterated over her by modern culture. But she realizes that no matter what she endeavors to do she will always be trapped by culture, for she lacks the capability to change just how her life is. After coming to this realization she chooses that she will retire where she seems the most free and away from being influenced; in to the ocean.
The third and final icon to be analyzed in this newspaper is the active symbolism of the houses that Edna resides in. These homes are a primary reflection of many mental and mental states that Edna activities throughout her journey. The cottages that are located on the Grand Isle have several symbolic meanings. They serve as independent cages for Edna and also are a reflection of the families that reside within them. Further, every one of the cottages at places such as this are nearly identical suggesting that family members that dwell in them are equivalent according to the customs of the Creole culture. Perhaps the most iconic and important house that is came across during the book is Edna's "pigeon-house. " The imagery relating to this house instantly provides reader understanding into why this house is so important to Edna, "In just a little four-room house around the corner. It appears so comfortable, so welcoming and restful. " (pp. 79) This pigeon house serves to provide Edna with the comfort and self-reliance that her old house with her hubby never provided. Her flexibility she experiences allows her to understand how much control she can have over her life, "she possessed solved never again to belong to another than herself. " (pp. 80) This can be considered one of her many awakenings for she realizes that she does not desire a man to be able to satisfy and complete her life. It is also important to notice the compare from her past feelings to the new thoughts and skills that arise after Edna steps into the pigeon house; before when she kisses Arobin in the house of her man she has feelings of "reproach taking a look at her from the external things around her which he had provided for her external existence. " (pp. 84) Yet when she engages with Arobin at her new "pigeon-house" she encounters no thoughts of reproach or regret. This illustrates how she is now more free in this house than she has been in every other setting.
There a wide range of symbols in the novel The Awakening, and in this essay three of the very most visible have been evaluated leading us to an enormous conclusion. Clearly it's important in this book, and most others to investigate and apply the occurrences and meanings behind symbols scattered throughout the work. Birds serve as an allusion to Edna herself and since an instrument of foreshadowment when it comes to her own demise. The ocean is used numerous times throughout the novel as a source of freedom and home appearance that allow Edna a release from everything taking place in her life. The last symbol was the countless residences that Edna was in during the book that were representative of her current thoughts and were a representation of her. With no research and acknowledgment of the symbols the storyplot becomes just a simple written piece and lacks significant deeper meanings.