The Importance of Setting and Symbols in "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin Essay

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Ranging from caged parrots to the meadow in Kentucky, symbols and settings in The Awakening are prominent and provide a deeper meaning than the text does alone. Throughout The Awakening by Kate Chopin, symbols and setting recur representing Edna’s current progress in her awakening. The reader can interpret these and see a timeline of Edna’s changes and turmoil as she undergoes her changes and awakening.
The setting Edna is in directly affects her temperament and awakening: Grand Isle provides her with a sense of freedom; New Orleans, restriction; the “pigeon house”, relief from social constraints. While at Grand Isle, Edna feels more freedom than she does at her conventional home in New Orleans. Instead of “Mrs. Pontellier… remaining in the drawing room the entire afternoon receiving visitors” (Chopin 84), Edna has the freedom to wander and spend time with Robert, rather than being restricted to staying at home while she is at Grand Isle. While sailing across the bay to the Cheniere Caminada, “Edna felt as if she were being borne away from some anchorage which had held her fast, whos chains had been looseining – had snapped the night before” (Chopin 58). The Cheniere Caminada at Grand Isle gives Edna an outlet from the social constraints she is under at home and at the cottage at Grand Isle. As Edna is sailing away she can feel the “anchorage” fall away: the social oppression, the gender roles, and the monotonous life all disappear; the same feeling and sense of awakening she gets when she sleeps for “one hundred years” (Chopin 63). New Orleans brings Edna back into reality – oppression, society, and depression clouds her mind as she is living a life she doesn’t want to live. New Orleans is the bastion of social rules, of realis...

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... the novel. Ranging from clothes, to birds, to the “pigeon house”, each symbol and setting provides the reader with insight into Edna’s personality, thoughts, and awakening.

Works Cited
Euripidies, Medea. ""Into realms of the semi-celestials": from mortal to mythic in The Awakening." 2005. Web. 3 Jan. 2010. .
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Avon, 1982. Print.
"The Importance of the Sea in Chopin’s The Awakening." 03 Jan 2010

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