Freedom Awakening Essay

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“I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself” (62). Edna tries explaining to Madame Ratignolle that this is something she is just beginning to understand from herself. She does not know why but she cannot bring herself to give up herself for her kids. The author Kate Chopin, who wrote the book The Awakening, explains through her novel societies’ demands and wishes for a woman, such as Edna, with a family. The book takes place in the late 19th century in New Orleans. In this time period however, Edna must become the obedient wife and stay home to take care of her kids and her husband. This however, is what Edna wants to do the least. The quote reveals right away Edna’s desire to become free of what society has placed upon her. Kate portrays the themes of freedom and independence by weaving throughout her novel the symbols of birds, such as the caged parrot, art, and the sea.
Throughout the novel Chopin reveals through the symbolism of the caged parrot Edna’s will to free herself from the life she lives. A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: `Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!''' (19) Like the parrot, Edna is caged in the life she lives in with Mr. Pontillier and their kids. She has the desire, the want, to fly away and leave the cage but cannot. Mademoiselle warns Edna, “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth." (82) Mademoiselle is telling Edna that her leaving could result in failure. Once more Edna wants to be that bird to get away from everyone, to fly away from the society she live...

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... said “Each one of you has something no one else has, or has ever had: your fingerprints, your brain, your heart. Be an individual. Be unique.” If this kind of mentality was in Edna’s period she might have had no reason to end her life the way she did.

Works Cited

Menke, Pamela Glenn. Rev. of The Catalyst of Color and Women's Regional Writing:
"At Fault," "Pembroke," and "The Awakening." Southern Quarterly Summer
1999: pp.9-20. Print.

Rev. of Kate Chpoin's The Awakening: A Critical Reception, by Russ Sprinkle.
Domestic Goddesses. N.p., Nov. 2003. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

Rev. of "Necessarily Vague": Kate Chopin's Gender-Awakening, by Erin E.
MacDonald. Domestic Goddesses. N.p., 24 May 1999. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

Unknown, ed. Rev. of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," by SIRS Renaissance.
SIRS. N.p., 5 Jan. 2005. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

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