The Awakening Essay

Edna and Robert are attracted to one another from the first meeting, though they do not realize it.They unwittingly flirt with each other, so that only the narrator and reader understand what is going on.For instance, in the chapter where Robert and Edna speak of buried treasure and pirates: “And in a day we should be rich! “I’d give it all to you, the pirate gold and every bit of treasure we could dig up. Pirate gold isn’t a thing to be hoarded or utilized.

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Because his hair is brown and grows away from his temples; because he opens and shuts his eyes, and his nose is a little out of drawing.” Edna is beginning to notice intricacies and details that she would have ignored previously, details that only an artist would focus and dwell on, and fall in love with. She sees it as a form of self-expression and individualism.

Edna’s own awakening is hinted at when the narrator writes, “Edna spent an hour or two in looking over her own sketches.

Art, as Mademoiselle Reisz defines it, is also a test of individuality.

But, like the bird with its broken wings struggling along the shore, Edna perhaps fails this final test, never blossoming into her true potential because she is distracted and confused along the way.

This minor but important awakening gives rise to Edna Pontellier’s most obvious and demanding awakening, one which resonates throughout the book: the sexual.

However, though her sexual awakening may seem to be the most important issue in the novel, Chopin slips in a final awakening at the end, one that is hinted at early on but not resolved until the last minute: Edna’s awakening to her true humanity and role as a mother.In her journey, Edna Pontellier is awoken to three important pieces of her own being.First, she awakens to her artistic and creative potential.In fact, the “symbol for sexual desire itself,” as George Spangler puts it, is the sea.It is appropriate that the most concentrated and artistically depicted symbol for desire comes, not in the form of a man, who may be viewed as a possessor, but in the sea, something which Edna herself, once afraid of swimming, conquers.Art, in "The Awakening," becomes a symbol of freedom and of failure.While attempting to become an artist, Edna reaches the first peak of her awakening. When Mademoiselle Reisz asks Edna why she loves Robert, Edna responds, “Why?A great deal of this confusion is owed to the second awakening in Edna’s character, the sexual awakening.This awakening is, without doubt, the most considered and examined aspect of the novel.Another transcendentalist link to awakening can be found with the inclusion of Emerson’s theory of correspondence, which has to do with life’s “double world, one within and one without.” Much of Edna is contradictory, including her attitudes toward her husband, her children, her friends, and even the men with whom she has affairs.These contradictions are encompassed within the idea that Edna was “beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her.” So, Edna’s true awakening is to the understanding of herself as a human being. She also becomes aware, at the end, of her role as a woman and mother.

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