Essay about Symbolism in the Awakening by Kate Chopin

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Symbolism in The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a novel full of symbolism which reveals much of the deeper meaning in the story. Within each narrative segment there is often a symbol that helps to add meaning to the text, and the understanding of these symbols is essential to a full appreciation of the story. These symbolic elements help the reader to make a connection between Edna’s world and her eventual awakening. Throughout the novel there are a huge number of symbols but three of the most meaningful symbols used are birds, houses and the ocean.

Birds often represent freedom and the ability to fly but are also symbols for something that goes one step further. Several kinds of birds appear throughout
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So Edna clearly lacks those strong wings and she finally drowns in the sea.
There are also others interpretations such as the one that says that Edna’s suicide is a rejection of Victorian womanhood and the bird’s fall clearly represents the fall of convention achieved by Edna’s death.

Houses reflect the soul of the inhabitant and the fact that Edna has several houses reflects the idea that she’s changing her state of mind, her progress in her awakening. There are four important houses throughout the novel: the one on Grand Isle, the one in New Orleans, the one on Chênière Caminada and the pigeon house. The first two houses represent repression for Edna, as if it were cages. On Grand Isle she’s expected to be a proper ‘mother-woman’ and in New Orleans to be the perfect social hostess. The other two houses are places of freedom, on Chênière Caminada she can dream whatever she wants and on the pigeon house she can create her own world.

On Grand Isle the vacationer’s cottages are also symbolic. They are the representation of the families which stay there. All of them are identical, meaning that all the families which stay on the cottages are stereotypes of an upper-class family at that moment. Edna doesn’t like being in the cottages, she prefers spending her time on the