The Awakening Dialectical Journal

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"A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water. " (Chopin 159, chapter 39 (different version of book)) In beginning of The Awakening, caged birds symbolize Edna's entrapment. She is trapped in the roles of wife and mother. The caged birds serve as symbols of the entrapment of the Victorian women in general. Like the caged parrot, the women's, and more specifically, Edna’s, movements are constrained by the rules of society. In contrast to the caged birds near the very beginning of the book, Chopin uses wild birds and the idea of flight as icons relating to freedom. This is exemplified when Mademoiselle Reisz plays the piano. During the music, Edna experiences a vision of a…show more content…
This quote really exemplifies how much Edna has changed and matured in contrast to the more static characters of Robert and Leonce. Here, Edna asserts that she is not a possession (completely contradictory to Louisiana norms at this time) to be traded. Edna declares that she alone has the power to give herself, her love, her time, and her company to someone. She is an independent and free spirit, with complete control over her own actions. Only she may dispense or withhold her own affections. By this point in The Awakening, Edna has claimed absolute sovereignty over herself and will answer to no man. She is set on having Robert regardless of what the surrounding Creole society may say. Antithetically, Robert’s thoughts have been focussed only on the Edna he knew at Grand Isle. He plans to eventually marry her, after a confrontation with Leonce. This prospective matrimony conforms completely to society's protocols. The woman he seeks to marry, however, is not so easily bound by these protocols. She refuses to subordinate herself, and even arrogates unto herself all the privileges of a man. She tells Robert that she was not set free by her husband, but rather, she left her husband of her own accord and under her own strength. She tells Robert that he is extremely foolish for thinking that Mr. Pontellier could stop her from doing what she pleased. She states even if her husband told her to be with Robert, she…show more content…
The illusionary image of the glowing pregnant beauty has given way to something far more realistic and frightening. After awakening to her own individuality, Edna would never want to be in that much pain for the sake of another human being. Her acute sense of misery and anguish as the child arrives highlights the contrast between her sexuality and the fact that carnal acts potentially lead to childbirth. Edna must leave the man she loves immediately after expressing her love for him in order to assist Adele. This leads to an even greater conflict between her love and lust, and childbirth. She experiences extreme sadness at the birth of the new baby. The conflict between her and childbirth makes sense considering she has been struggling against the expectations that society has thrust upon her as a mother and woman. Her sexual desires are contrasted by her acute misery with having a family and the associated duties. This is the antithesis of the mother-woman Adele. This is also in complete opposition to Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. Hester is her own woman. She is unique, strong, and independent. However, she does care for her family. She is willing to put others before herself. Unlike Edna, she never experienced any affection for her husband. Edna

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