Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Kate Chopin was arguably one of the boldest and most critiqued female writers of the nineteenth century, most likely due to her erotic themes of sexuality and independence amongst women. She was acclaimed for both her literary naturalism and feminism, both of which she makes apparent throughout the majority of her literature (Roth, 208). Her writing challenged the traditional roles society put into place for women, which brought along a lot of negative criticism, especially for her novel The Awakening. The Lewis Daily Globe Democrat suggested that “if The Awakening pointed to any particular moral or taught any lesson the fact was not apparent” (Unger, 2005), while other critics such as Van Wyck Brooks described The Awakening as a “small perfect…show more content…
The parrot is largely symbolic for Edna, who is trapped inside the cage society has forced upon her as a mother and wife. The mockingbird is symbolic for Madame Reisz, who will later in the story be the only character to understand Edna’s awakening. Robert Lebrun, Edna’s self-convinced lover, teaches Edna how to swim. The first time she swims is symbolic for the beginning of her awakening, in the way that she began to “realize her position in the universe as a human being, and [began] to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her” (Chopin, 57). At the climax of Edna’s awakening, Madame Reinsz tells Edna that if she is going to embrace her love for Robert and pursue her independence, she must be “the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice [and] must have strong wings” (Chopin, 138). Even though Edna tries to be independent, which is seen when she moves into the pigeon house to retreat from Leonce’s possessions, she cannot escape the life in which she blindly chose when she married her husband and more importantly when she gave birth to her children (Ewell,
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