This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Importance Of The Sea In Chopin’s The Awakening

2331 words - 9 pages

The Importance of the Sea in Chopin’s The Awakening

Unlike María Eugenia, Edna in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening chooses not to fill her family’s expectations. As she takes her final steps into the sea she thinks to herself: “they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul” (655). Edna treasures her autonomy and chooses death over familial subjugation. However her transformational journey, alluded to by the title of the novel leads to more than the rejection of her self-sacrificing familial roles as wife and mother and her death.

We first meet Edna on her way back from a swim with Robert Lebrun, as Chopin begins to establish Edna’s burgeoning transformation in the context of her relationship with Robert and to the sea. While Robert and Edna’s relationship develops, Edna becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her marriage to Léonce Pontellier and her traditional roles as wife and mother to her two children, Rauol and Etienne. Edna learns to swim, takes up painting, befriends Madame Reisz, an eccentric old woman that plays the piano, and moves into her own house. After Robert leaves for Mexico, she engages in an affair with Alceé Arobin, until Robert returns and they affirm their love for one another. However, Robert, afraid of the social repercussions of their affair, leaves town. As a result of losing Robert, failing to find fulfillment in her life without a man, and failing to reconcile her roles as a good and faithful wife and mother while becoming an artist and falling in love, Edna commits suicide by drowning herself in the sea.

The sea, or green-world token is present throughout the novel as Edna engages in her innermost thoughts and her relationship with Robert, the green-world lover. Although Edna engages in the transformational journey to the point of changing her behavior, she is not happy with the results. She can find no happy medium between being the model wife and mother that her friend, Madame Ratignolle represents and the independent artist that Madame Reisz represents, while pursuing her relationship with Robert and staying true to herself.

From the beginning of the story, the reader is alerted to the fact that Edna is experiencing an inner struggle to reconcile her relationships with Mr. Pontellier, Robert, and herself. When Edna comes back from her swim with Robert, Mr. Pontellier criticizes her; “What folly! to bathe at such an hour in such heat!” (Chopin 522). From the outset, Mr. Pontellier is opposed to the engagement with the water that Robert and Edna share. He is neither cognizant of the fact that Edna and Robert are falling in love, nor is he supportive of Edna’s transformation.

Later on in the story after Edna has taken up painting and refuses to receive callers, Mr. Pontellier calls up his friend, Dr. Mandelet to evaluate Edna’s mental state. Mr. Pontellier’s action is indicative of the women artist’s position in society at the time, what Virginia Woolf refers to as the “crazy...

Find Another Essay On The Importance of the Sea in Chopin’s The Awakening

Choice of Lifestyle in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

655 words - 3 pages Choice of Lifestyle in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening One of many poignant themes in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is Edna Pontellier’s fundamental choice of lifestyle -- the choice of dedication to the aesthete, the solitude of art (as represented by Mademoiselle Reisz), or devotion to the all-consuming task of becoming a domestic goddess (as Madame Ratignolle has done). Considered mutually exclusive not only by Chopin but by American society

Contradictory Impulses in Chopin’s The Awakening

537 words - 2 pages Contradictory Impulses in Chopin’s The Awakening “Edna Pontellier could not have told why, wishing to go to the beach with Robert, she should in the first place have declined, and in the second place have followed in obedience to one of the two contradictory impulses that impelled her. A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her,--the light which, showing the way, forbids it,” (Chopin 34). The possibility of a life beyond the

Edna and Conformity in Chopin’s The Awakening

615 words - 2 pages Edna and Conformity in Chopin’s The Awakening The passage of The Awakening which truly marks Edna Pontellier’s new manner of thought regarding her life revolves around her remembrance of a day of her childhood in Kentucky. She describes the scene to Madame Ratigonelle as the two women sit on the beach one summer day. The passage opens with a description of the sea and the sky on that particular day. This day and its components are expressed

A Deconstructionist Critique of Chopin’s The Awakening

527 words - 2 pages A Deconstructionist Critique of Chopin’s The Awakening The multiplicity of meanings and (re)interpretations informing critical studies of The Awakening reveal a novel ripe for deconstructionist critique. Just as Chopin evokes an image of the sea as symbolic of Edna’s shifting consciousness (“never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude,”138), likewise the deconstructionist reading of a

Showalter’s Analysis of Chopin’s The Awakening

596 words - 2 pages Showalter’s Analysis of Chopin’s The Awakening In “Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book,” Elaine Showalter makes a compelling argument that “Edna Pontellier’s ‘unfocused yearning’ for an autonomous life is akin to Kate Chopin’s yearning to write works that go beyond female plots and feminine endings” (204). Urging her reader to read The Awakening “in the context of literary tradition,” Showalter demonstrates the

Understanding Wolff’s Analysis of Chopin’s The Awakening

867 words - 3 pages Understanding Wolff’s Analysis of Chopin’s The Awakening “Un-Utterable Longing” analyzes The Awakening from the diverse, yet overlapping perspectives of deconstruction, feminist/gender theory, new historicism, and psychoanalytic criticism. Much like Yaeger and Treichler, Wolff attributes Edna’s struggle and eventual demise to her failed search for a language that voices her (un)womanly desires. Wolff first adopts the new historicist viewpoint

The Importance of Point of View in Kate Chopin’s Fiction

3462 words - 14 pages The Importance of Point of View in Kate Chopin’s Fiction The impact of Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, on society resulted in her ruin, both literary and social. Reviewers called it vulgar, improper, unhealthy, and sickening. One critic said that he wished she had never written it, and another wrote that to truly describe the novel would entail language not fit for publication (Stipe 16). The overwhelming condemnation of the

Strength in Struggle: Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

3659 words - 15 pages Strength in Struggle Many readers see the actions of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening as those of a feminist martyr. Edna not only defies her husband and commits adultery, but chooses death over life in a society that will not grant her gender equality. Although this reading may fit, it is misguided in that it ignores a basic aspect of Chopin’s work, the force that causes Mrs. Mallard’s happiness in “The Story of an Hour” upon

The Importance of Setting in The Awakening

2249 words - 9 pages The Importance of Setting in The Awakening              Setting is a key element in Chopin's novel, The Awakening   To the novel's main character, Edna Pontellier, house is not home. Edna was not herself when enclosed behind the walls of the Pontellier mansion. Instead, she was another person entirely-- someone she would like to forget. Similarly, Edna takes on a different identity in her vacation setting in Grand Isle, in her independent

Theme of Isolation in Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums and Chopin’s The Awakening

1607 words - 6 pages Despite differing story lines, Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, depict the same suffering; the isolation that women have been forced to endure throughout history. In the time period that all three characters were placed, it was culturally acceptable for wives to be dominated by their husbands; their responsibility revolving around the needs of their children and those

The Voice of the Sea in The Awakening

915 words - 4 pages The Voice of the Sea in The Awakening           Many different symbols were utilized in Kate Chopin's The Awakening to illustrate the underlying themes and internal conflict of the characters.  One constant and re-emerging symbol is the sea.  The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward

Similar Essays

Use Of Symbolism In Chopin’s The Awakening

744 words - 3 pages Use of Symbolism in Chopin’s The Awakening --Passage from Chapter X, pgs. 49-50 “But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence. She could have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water. A feeling of exultation overtook her

Use Of Imagery In Chopin’s The Awakening

734 words - 3 pages Use of Imagery in Chopin’s The Awakening Several passages in The Awakening struck me because of their similar imagery—a bird, wings, and nudity. The first passage I looked at is in Chapter 9 where Edna Pontellier has a vision of a naked man “standing beside a desolate rock” (47) on a beach who is watching a bird fly away. This image was evoked by a one particular piece that Mme Ratignolle plays which Edna significantly calls “Solitude

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening Essay

1108 words - 4 pages discriminatory towards them. In addition to this, women were given few choices for marriage many times it was for status, and for women at this point it was also for their whole life. This provides the backdrop for Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening. Chopin’s novel shows the struggle of a woman in this time period dealing with the repression and injustices in society. In this early feminist novel, the main character, Edna Pontellier, struggles to find herself

The Metaphorical Lesbian In Chopin’s The Awakening

615 words - 2 pages The Metaphorical Lesbian in Chopin’s The Awakening In “The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening” Elizabeth LeBlanc asserts that the character Edna Pontellier is an example of what Bonnie Zimmerman calls the “metaphorical lesbian.” It’s important to distinguish between Zimmerman’s concept of the “metaphorical lesbian” and lesbianism. The “metaphorical lesbian” does not have to act on lesbian feelings or even become conscious