Different symbols in Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

Essay by david2dtHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2003

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In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Edna Pontellier is reborn and dies in the sea. As Edna swims by herself for the very first time, she feels a wave of independence. This prompts an "awakening" in which Edna goes through many drastic changes, defying traditional thought and social conventions. Edna finally drowns herself in the sea, ending her awakening. The reasons for Edna's outbreak into a new world can be shown through her passion for the sea and her knowledge and disobedience to "illusions" in society.

Throughout the novel, Edna possesses a proclivity toward the sea, and this brings about her awakening and death. Edna first shows her excitement for the sea when sitting with her friend Madame Ratignolle. While Madame Ratignolle prefers to go inside, away from the heat, Edna is very content with watching "the water stretching so far away" and "the motionless sails against the blue sky."

She then relates the sea to her childhood in the tall fields in Kentucky, thinking about when she " threw her arms as if swimming when she walked, beating the tall grass as one strikes out in the water." The next notable experience with the sea is Edna's awakening. At a party held by the Lebrun's, everyone decides to walk down to the beach. Edna had been learning how to swim the entire summer, and she finally accomplishes this task. While swimming, "a feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been giver her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before." After this, Edna becomes a new person. She is not afraid to try new things, or to do things other women have not. After her swim, Edna chooses to walk...