Symbolism In The Awakening

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While Chopin utilizes several examples of symbolism throughout her novel, The Awakening, no symbol is as powerful as the various images of birds. These birds play a major role from the first sentence and throughout the novel in its entirety in an effort to reinforce the theme of the novel. Chopin explores how men, and even society as a whole, during the Victorian Era “caged” women to illustrate that women are not strictly limited to being simply mothers and wives. By symbolizing women as birds, Chopin adds fascination to her work and simultaneously encourages the reader to interpret it at a more profound level. At the early onset of the novel, the protagonist, Edna Pontellier, has not yet been “awakened.” At this point in her life, she is symbolized by the “green and yellow parrot”, that “hung in a cage outside the door,” (Pg. 1). Edna is unable to fly away to…show more content…
Eventually, Miss Pontellier leaves her family and moves to the pigeon house in an attempt to escape. The move creates an independence that turns “fleeting,” as she soon realizes that her new life is another cage, just "two steps away" from where she was before(Pg. 107). The Mademoiselle understands Edna's struggle because she, too, has undergone the struggle of breaking out of society's constraints; and, although she has gained her freedom, she must persevere alone and misconceived. Through her own experience, she has learned that "the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings," and as Mademoiselle Reisz feels Edna's "shoulder blades to see if [her] wings are strong," she then shares the wisdom and knowledge that she has gained over time (Pg 112). Edna must decide who she will be, and this means letting go of assumptions greatly deep-seated in her by society. She is warned that to gain her freedom from her marriage is a difficult
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