Transcendentalism In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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The Awakening Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” (Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote). This quote best applies to the character of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, as she demonstrates the characteristics of being truly independent by boldly defying the oppressive social expectations placed upon her and her gender during the 1890’s, such as depending solely on a male figure. During her “awakening”, Edna struggles in an arduous battle against society to discover herself, and the contemplation of multiple natural images helps motivate her to do so. The most significant natural objects in the text are the following:…show more content…
In literature, the moon symbolizes women because it relates to the menstrual cycle, and in this text, the topic of the moon is brought up when Robert walked Edna home after her frightening first experience in the ocean. He states, “On the twenty- eighth of August, at the hour of midnight, and if the moon is shining- the moon must be shining- a spirit that has haunted these shores for ages rises up from the Gulf. With its own penetrating vision the spirit seek some one mortal worthy to hold him company…” (Chopin 38). The mysterious moon spirit Robert mentions represents the male figure, and it is described as possessing a “penetrating vision” which seeks a “mortal worthy to hold him company”, or in other words, a woman. The word “penetrating” presents a very violent sexual image in which a man is the master of a woman. Edna, always claiming that nobody- not even her children- should have the right to possess her or be her master, obviously did not respond well to this. Despite Edna’s love for Robert and the fact that he triggered her awakening, she still is able to remain…show more content…
The first bird that was presented in the text is the parrot, which represents women and their position in society at this time, as parrots can generally only mimic or do what their told, much like how women were expected to act back then. In the text, the parrot is described as being green and yellow and “hanging in a cage” (Chopin 1). The cage the parrot occupies typifies a prison, which relates to how women were extremely limited and confined by society’s acceptance of male dominance and the pressure to conform. In relation to Edna, the parrot represents an earlier version of herself before her “awakening. As the story moves on, Edna’s decisions change, and the images of birds she is portrayed through gain a more empowering role. For instance, the house Edna decides to move into is referred to as “the pigeon house”, and signifies Edna’s freedom of choice. By deciding to move into a separate house from her children and her husband Leonce, Edna is freed from society’s strict expectations placed upon women to be a housewife. This idea is further supported by her statement: “There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual. Every step which she took toward relieving herself from obligations added to her strength and expansion as an individual”

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