Symbols In The Awakening

The Awakening is a novel written by Kate Chopin in 1899. The book starts off on the Grand Isle, a place where Edna spends her summer with Robert, and their children. The Grand Isle is a new setting for Edna, who has spent summers with her children at The Creole House. The Grand Isle symbolizes some ideas related to the awakening of Edna Pontellier’s individualism and new perspectives on life.

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, follows Edna Pontellier through the summer months of her life. The book begins with her throwing a lavish beach party that lasts into the morning hours. The reader sees Edna relaxing at the beginning of the novel, but then she begins to realize that something is missing from her life- though she cannot put a finger on what it is. The reader watches Edna fall deeper and deeper into a depression, one that takes over her life and leaves her feeling empty inside.

The only way she can find pleasure in anything is by going to the beach with Robert, but even then she feels as if something is still wrong. The reader soon discovers that Edna has fallen in love with another man named Leonce, someone who was supposed to be nothing more than a simple affair. The city of New Orleans becomes a character within itself, as Chopin uses imagery to describe the time period and social strata of society. ” ” Anyways, I have this idea for The Awakening and I was wondering if anyone would want to beta read it for me.

The only certain thing is that The Awakening takes place in Louisiana during the late 1800’s. The rest of the time, location, and who else will be there will be a surprise! This story may seem a bit rushed because The Awakening takes place over a short amount of time. I have wanted to do this story for a while now but I’m not sure how people will feel about Edna being bisexual or Edna being so consumed by her depression until she falls into an affair with another woman. Also, please don’t expect too many chapters from The Awakening … it doesn’t take place over a very long period of time. “

The first idea connected to this symbolism is change, which happens everywhere throughout The Awakening. The changes that happen at The Grand Isle contribute to the symbolism of Edna Pontellier’s transformation from a traditional wife into an individual woman. As stated before, Edna spent most of her summers at The Creole House, which is a place that represents the old and traditional Edna Pontellier. The Grand Isle symbolizes change because all of Edna’s friends and family are there together with her.

The Grand Isle brings about “wild impulses” in Mrs. Pontellier, as she tries to break away from tradition and be more free-spirited (Chopin). The island also contributes to the theme of individuality: Robert returns home from Mexico after serving as a soldier for three years; he acts awkwardly around his children; Alcee Arobin; Mademoiselle Reisz; Edna spends time with Madame Ratignolle and they share their feelings towards motherhood; Robert’s strange behavior compells Edna to go to The Grand Isle; and Edna meets Alcee Arobin.

The Grand Isle is the place where she decides to (lightly) flirt with Alcee, break away from Robert’s traditional control over her, and make new friends. The transformations that take place at The Grand Isle are major contributions to Edna Pontellier’s awakening as an individual woman. Another idea related to the symbolism of The Grand Isle is sexuality. This symbolism is most evident when Edna goes swimming in the ocean for the first time with Madame Ratignolle – they both experience feelings of intimacy towards one another, but never speak it out loud.

For example, “Madame Ratignolle threw off jealousy, and laughed” because she knew that Edna was not interested in Monsieur Ratignolle romantically (Chopin). The Grand Isle is also a place where Edna flirts with Alcee Arobin, and she spends time with Robert because he is supposed to be her husband. The Grand Isle symbolizes Edna’s sexuality because of the feelings she has towards these two men, and how The Grand Isle might have contributed to them being more evident.

Another idea related to The Awakening symbolism of The Grand Isle is death. This symbolism becomes apparent when Edna thinks about suicide at The Grand Isle: “But a whole night and day had passed; it must be approaching twenty-four hours since she tasted food” (Chopin). The Grand Isle also symbolizes death because Edna dreams about the island being swallowed by the ocean, and how it takes her under with it.

The symbolism of The Grand Isle can work as a representation of Edna Pontellier’s lack of communication with other people- how The Grand Isle gradually disappears along with her relationship with Robert, just like how she slowly slips into depression after Robert stops communicating his feelings towards Edna. The symbolism of The Grand Isle represents Edna’s transformation into an individual woman; her decline in communication; and her depression, which all contributed to Edna Pontellier’s awakening as an individual woman in The Awakening.

One of the main themes in The Awakening is that of symbolism. The use of symbols can serve as a tool to give us multiple messages within one object, term, or character. The different symbols used by Kate Chopin help to reveal Edna’s changing state of being and also allow readers to better understand her inner thoughts. The color white is the most significant symbol in The Awakening because it represents many things throughout the novel. The color begins with Edna trying on a new hat decorated with white flowers; she feels this hat will start a new chapter in life for her since she has never had anything so beautiful before (Chopin 1).

It helps spread positivity into her life, but when she becomes too attached to Robert Lebrun, she goes back to the hat and changes it into something that is less bright. The hat, which used to represent happiness now represents unhappiness because Edna feels trapped in her life (Chopin 3). The color white also represents death towards the end of The Awakening when it seems as if Edna doesn’t care whether she lives or dies. The beach is another symbol in The Awakening that often appears throughout the story.

The first time Edna visits the beach with Adele; she realizes at this moment how beautiful everything really is (Chopin 2). She sees beyond what she has been seeing for years and gets a new sense of appreciation for existence. This leads her to go out by herself after Adele falls asleep and she spends the rest of her time in The Awakening out on the beach. The last two times Edna is seen on the beach, it shows that she’s become distant from society and tries to drown herself in order to escape (Chopin 60 & 85).

The beach has come to represent freedom for Edna by helping her get away from everyone around her that does not understand her. The final scene between Robert and Edna takes place on the beach where their love comes to an end. Another symbol in The Awakening is found through Adele Ratignolle since she represents a motherly figure throughout the novel. The beginning shows how much she cares for people and goes out of her way to ensure that they are happy (Chopin 1).

The greatest time to portray this is when she takes Edna shopping and tries her best to make sure Edna feels comfortable with where she’s at, but also by making sure Adele has a good time as well (Chopin 3). The motherly role takes on a darker aspect later in the novel since she doesn’t understand why Edna wants to spend so much time away from home and would rather be outside doing things that don’t seem necessary (Chopin 5). The final part of The Awakening shows how much Mrs. Ratignolle truly cares for Edna and just wants her to be happy yet again (Chopin 85 & 60).

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