Symbols play an important role in The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The most important symbol in the novel is the bird that Edna Pontellier sees throughout the story. The bird represents Edna’s desire for freedom and her longing to be away from the constraints of her life. The bird also symbolizes Edna’s innermost thoughts and feelings, which she is not able to express openly.
Other important symbols in The Awakening include water and fire. Water is often associated with emotions and feelings, and it plays a significant role in Edna’s awakening. Fire, on the other hand, is often associated with passion and sexuality, both of which are central themes in the novel.
The novels’ themes include spiritualism and paganism, as well as feminist issues. The motif of Edna’s choosing to sleep in her clothes appears throughout the novel. Many symbols appear, such as Edna’s usage of art, the birds (the parrot and mockingbird), sleep, music, and the houses where Edna lives; however, two of the most important symbols are likely the clothing worn by characters other than Edna , as well as water whether it be the ocean, gulf, or sea. These two symbols are very significant because they have a direct link to Edna Pontellier.
The clothes that Edna and the other characters wear throughout The Awakening allude to their true feelings and desires, while the water is representative of Edna’s journey toward self-discovery and her eventual awakening.
The way Edna Pontellier uses art is also highly symbolic. Art was extremely important to Edna and she saw it as a means of self-expression. She used art as an outlet for her own emotions and desires, which she was unable to express in any other way. The fact that she was not able to sell her paintings also symbolized her lack of success in finding a place for herself in society.
The birds in The Awakening, the parrot and the mockingbird, are both symbols of Edna’s growth and development. The parrot represents Edna’s physical and sexual awakening, while the mockingbird symbolizes her spiritual and emotional awakening. The fact that both birds are killed at the end of the novel suggests that Edna’s growth has come to an end.
Sleep is another significant symbol in The Awakening. For Edna, sleep represents a escape from reality, a place where she can go to forget her problems and responsibilities. However, sleep also symbolizes death, and this is shown when Edna tries to drown herself at the end of the novel. Music is also symbolic in The Awakening.
It represents passion and emotion, two things that Edna feels deeply but is unable to express in words. The houses that Edna Pontellier lives in are also symbolic. The first house represents her role as a wife and mother, the second house symbolizes her independence, and the third house represents her final awakening.
The most significant symbols in The Awakening are the clothes that Edna and the other characters wear and the water. The clothes represent the true feelings and desires of the characters, while the water symbolizes Edna’s journey toward self-discovery and her eventual awakening.
Edna’s clothes, as well as the water and her clothing, have the ability to not just accentuate but also help illustrate how and what she is feeling. In The Awakening, clothes are given so much significance that they are mentioned in almost every character description. Edna Pontellier begins the novel dressed properly for a woman of her station, but at her death on the beach she is naked. Other characters in the tale likewise express their place and mood via their clothing. Mademoiselle Reisz never changes her attire.
The clothing that a person wears is one of the first things that we observe about people. The color, style, and fabric of clothing often reveal a great deal about a person’s socioeconomic status, occupation, religious beliefs, and even their cultural background. The way that someone chooses to dress often reflects their mood and emotions as well.
In The Awakening, clothing is used as a symbol to help readers understand Edna Pontellier’s journey from being a traditional wife and mother to becoming a independent woman. At the beginning of the novel, Edna is shown wearing very constrictive clothing that is common for women of her social class at the time. The author writes, “She wore a close-fitting parti-striped dress of soft woollen stuff.
Its skirt was trimmed with narrow bands of violet velvet, and it was cut square at the neck” (Chopin 4). The tight-fitting nature of Edna’s dress symbolizes the way that she feels restricted by her role as a wife and mother. She is not able to express her own individuality or pursue her own interests because she is expected to conform to the expectations of society.
As Edna begins to rebel against these expectations and assert her own independence, she starts to wear looser, more comfortable clothing. For example, after she has an affair with Robert Lebrun, she goes for a swim in the ocean to wash away the guilt that she feels. The author describes her clothing at this point, writing “She had on a bathing suit and a close-fitting cap.
They were of the same violet shade” (Chopin 69). The fact that her clothing is now loose-fitting and more revealing than before symbolizes Edna’s newfound sense of freedom. She no longer feels confined by the expectations of society and is able to express her own sexuality without shame.
The final time that clothing is mentioned in The Awakening is when Edna Pontellier commits suicide by walking into the ocean. The author writes, “She walked out into the water up to her waist, then she stopped and turned round” (Chopin 185). The fact that Edna is completely naked at this moment symbolizes her complete rejection of the social norms that have been holding her back. By taking off her clothes, she is showing that she is no longer going to conform to the expectations of society. Instead, she is going to forge her own path in life, even if it means swimming against the tide.
Water is also used as a symbol in The Awakening. The ocean is often seen as a place of freedom and liberation, which is fitting considering Edna’s journey towards independence. The author writes, “There was something comforting about the sea” (Chopin 33). This comfort that Edna feels in the presence of the ocean represents her growing sense of freedom from the constraints of society. The ocean also has a calming effect on Edna, which symbolizes her ability to find peace within herself.
She does not alter her clothes out of choice, as she has no desire to improve her life. Other characters, such as Madame Leburn, are constantly seen wearing new clothing to cover their bodies. This could be a way of indicating the necessity for women in repressed roles as wives and mothers to continually hide their sexuality.
The image of Edna swimming out to sea at the end of The Awakening has been interpreted in many ways. Some believe that it is a suicide, while others see it as Edna finally freeing herself from the constraints of society. The most likely interpretation, however, is that Chopin meant it to be ambiguous.
The reader is not given any clear indication as to whether or not Edna drowns, and this leaves the ending open to interpretation. Whether she drowns or not, Edna has made the decision to free herself from her old life and to start anew. The fact that she does this by swimming out to sea, which is usually seen as a place of calm and peace, further emphasizes her need for escape.
The final image of The Awakening is one of hope and possibility, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the novel. The sea also symbolizes death throughout The Awakening, as it is where Edna goes to think about her life and make her final decision. The fact that she returns to it at the end shows how she has come full circle; she started her journey by swimming out to sea and ends it the same way.
The color green is used throughout The Awakening to symbolize different things. At first, it is used to represent Edna’s youth and innocence, as she is described as looking “like a green fruit ripening too fast”. Later on, however, the color takes on a more sinister meaning. When Edna sees the green-and-yellow parrot in Mademoiselle Reisz’s apartment, it foreshadows her own death. The fact that the parrot is caged also represents how Edna feels trapped in her life.
The color green is also associated with the sea, which as we have seen, is a symbol of death. The final symbol I will discuss is the locket. This is a gift from Edna’s husband to their daughter, and it is meant to represent the family’s love for each other. However, Edna does not give it to her daughter, because she does not want her to be “bound” by her husband and family.