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The Awakening Essay

872 words - 4 pages

In the novel, The Awakening, by Katie Chopin, main character Edna Pontellier struggles to find her identity between being her outer self and her inner self. Her outer self, as Chopin describes, is the one that conforms based on society’s expectations of her. Edna’s inner self, on the other hand, is the one that questions her outer self and is authentic to who she truly is when free of society’s norms. As the novel progresses, Edna’s desire to identify more with her inner self rather than conforming to her outer self increases; Edna begins to devote more time towards her paintings and furthermore, moves out from her residency with her husband. However, in the process of accepting her inner ...view middle of the document...

In the beginning of the novel, Edna, upon first gaining independence through her ability to swim, desires to swim to a point further than no other women has swum. As a parallel, Edna search for her independence goes further than any other women in society has gone. Edna, in her swim out to the ocean realizes that the sea is indeed “seductive” for it leads to her ultimate demise. The sea is representative of society. Edna wishes to be able to be independent within such society. However, the continued “coiling” of the water on Edna ankles and its overpowering nature, makes her unable to do so. Chopin’s physical representation of the society through the sea serves to show the overpowering nature in a women’s search for independence. Before Edna’s death at the end of the novel, Edna was forced to stay close enough to shore and never able to swim out as far as she wants. Her situation draws a parallel to her dependence on conforming to society and her inability to find independence. For it is through her search for independence, which she is unable to find while still functioning in society, that leads to her demise.
Edna’s final thoughts in the novel focus on her role as a mother, her inability to be understood, and her childhood days. Such thoughts highlight the struggles Edna feels as placed upon by society. Edna’s childhood days are representative of when Edna was able to be more true to her real self, but is also representative of when she lost her freedom. When Edna had tried to regain this freedom that she had in childhood, she loses...

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