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The Transformation of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening Essay

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“She wanted something to happen- something, anything: she did not know what”
(Chopin). In Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, the reader is introduced to Edna Pontellier, a
passionate, rebellious woman. Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent how unsettled Edna
feels about her life. The reader can identify this by her thoughts, desires, and actions, which are
highly inappropriate for an affluent woman of the time. In the novel, Edna has an awakening
and finds the courage to make the changes she sees necessary. Kate Chopin is able to make
quality connections in order to symbolize her innermost desires. Chopin does this by providing
references to the sea, and the birds, and then using them to foreshadow Edna’s end of life
decision.

The sea is typically used in order to express strength, life/ death, and calmness. In The
Awakening, Kate Chopin uses the sea as a way to communicate Edna’s strength and
empowerment. Two references that examine this idea are made available: one for the
transformation of her body and one for the transformation of her mind. Edna’s learn-to-swim
experience transforms her body during her awakening. Overcoming her fears and learning to
swim is a significant experience because it shows how she is able to gain control over her body:
“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul” (Chopin). This is a powerful statement due to the fact
that it represents how Edna undergoes a dramatic change in character. She goes from listening
and acting upon the influences of society, to following her own mind and innermost desires.
These both play a large part in understanding Edna’s personal transformation from a quiet and
fearful girl to an empowered and independent woman.

Across many forms of art, birds ...


... middle of paper ...


...el progresses, an awakening can be observed. This
awakening greatly transforms Edna’s body and mind. Kate Chopin makes this evident by her
use of references to the sea, the birds, and the foreshadowing of Edna’s end of life decision.
These quality connections show the suffering, empowerment, and innermost desires of Edna
throughout the novel, The Awakening.




Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. New York: Herbert S. Stone and Co., 1899. Print.

Garrett Brown, Kimberly. “Dropping Hints and the Power of Foreshadowing in Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening.” Blogs Goddard. The Pitkin Review. Spring 2010. Web. 20 March 2015.

Mascarenhas, Cheryl. “Bird Symbolism and Their Meaning.” Buzzle. South University. 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 March 2015.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Birds in The Awakening." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 20 March 2015.


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