The Awakening Essay

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She is learning what it means to be an individual, a woman, and a mother.

Indeed, Chopin amplifies the significance of this journey by mentioning that Edna Pontellier “sat in the library after dinner and read Emerson until she grew sleepy.

The narrator writes, “the voice of [the] sea speaks to the soul.

The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” This is perhaps the most sensual and passionate chapter of the book, devoted entirely to depictions of the sea and to Edna’s sexual awakening.

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.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.These three awakenings, artistic, sexual, and motherhood, are what Chopin includes in her novel to define womanhood; or, more specifically, independent womanhood.What seems to begin Edna’s awakening is the rediscovery of her artistic inclinations and talents.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.It is pointed out here that “The beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing.” Still, as Donald Ringe notes in his essay, the book "is too often seen in terms of the question of sexual freedom.” The true awakening in the novel, and in Edna Pontellier, is the awakening of self.Throughout the novel, she is on a transcendental journey of self-discovery.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.


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