"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin.

Essay by jlcangel77College, UndergraduateA+, May 2003

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In The Awakening, Kate Chopin used the sea as a symbol to show how Edna awakened to her independence, her sexual desires and her place in society. The book took place in the late 1800s on Grand Isle in Louisiana. The main character Edna Pontellier, who was not a Creole, was married to Leonce Pontellier, who was a Creole. Leonce was self-centered and did not care about anybody but himself. He saw Edna as his possession because in Creole society men were dominant. Seldom did the Creoles accept outsiders into their social circle and women were expected to provide well-kept homes and have many children. Edna did not feel that she fit into the Creole society and finally awoke to many feelings when she swam in the sea for the first time.

Although Edna had been unable to learn to swim all summer, she suddenly experienced the desire to swim "where no woman had swam before" (47).

She boldly entered the water and swam out alone. As she continued to swim further out she felt the presence of death, and she struggled back to the safety of land. Edna's failed attempt to swim far beyond where no woman had swum before implied that she had a weakness with her independence.

While this experience was new for Edna she took full control over it and decided to move out. Edna moved to the pigeon house just down the street because she did not consider Leonce's home to be her home. She preferred to stop accepting the benefits of his wealth because she wanted to be independent. Edna gained her independence at the house by doing the housework whenever she wanted, by not answering to callers, and by not being woken up in the middle of the night. She planned to pay...