The Awakening Analysis Essay - Samantha Sewell Grybash The Awakening Chapter Seventeen Analysis The novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin places a

The Awakening Analysis Essay - Samantha Sewell Grybash The...

This preview shows page 1 out of 4 pages.

Unformatted text preview: Samantha Sewell Grybash 11/9/16 The Awakening Chapter Seventeen Analysis The novel, “The Awakening”, by Kate Chopin, places a significant amount of focus on the concept of marriage. Chapter seventeen highlights the rigidity of marriage at the time, and the resistance individuals faced when attempting to free themselves of this traditional institution. Although many people of the time accepted marriage as a way of life, there were some women, such as the main character, Edna, who wanted to escape the confines of marriage. In an attempt to do so, Edna finds herself in an ongoing battle against society;; a battle which ultimately has no winner. Throughout the course of the novel, Edna experiences a notable shift in the way she views and accepts the world around her. Chapter seventeen highlights this shift, clearly portraying the fact that Edna is beginning to distance herself from her husband. When Léonce refuses to finish his dinner and leaves the house to go to the club, Edna does not lose her own appetite as she would have before. Instead, she “finished her dinner alone, with forced deliberation” (Chopin 56). This occurrence clearly showcases a significant transformation in Edna since her time at Grand Isle. As established in this scene, Edna is no longer dependent on her husband in order to live her life. This incident, in which Edna is able to act independently of her husband, is made even more powerful in contrast to the “lady in black”, who is first introduced on page six. The “lady in black” is a widow who is completely devoted to her husband, even after his passing. The “lady in black” personifies the expectations of women at the time, which, according to Felicia Appell, celebrated English scholar, were that they “marry and take part in their husbands’ interests and business” (2012). The contrast between Edna and other women of her society is striking. In comparison the the “lady in black”, Edna appears fairly close to freedom in this excerpt. In fact, freedom is a major theme in this passage, which is communicated chiefly through a heavy use of symbolism. As Edna finished her meal, “her eyes flamed with some inward fire that lighted them” (57). The concept of fire and flame throughout the novel represents passion. In terms of the scene specifically, this passion stems from Edna’s intense irritation over Léonce's outburst. In broader terms, however, Edna’s passion arises from extreme discontent with her life and the expectations that have been placed upon her by society. Edna finishes her meal with fervor, and upon finishing, she retires to her room. Once in her room, she “went and stood at an open window” (57). As the aforementioned fire represented Edna’s passionate longing for freedom, the open window represents freedom itself. Edna looks out her window, able to visualize freedom, but unable to attain it. Understandably, Edna’s inability to reach freedom infuriates her. In a moment of intense rage, Edna removes her wedding ring and flings it onto the floor. She attempts to batter the ring beyond recognition, but “her small boot heel did not make an indenture, not a mark upon the little glittering circlet” (57). The removal of her wedding ring symbolizes Edna’s abhorrence for the marital institution of the time. Her failure to destroy the ring is a symbol of Edna’s powerlessness against such a rigid tradition as marriage. No matter how badly she may want to break free from the suffocating restrictions of marriage, the custom appears to be utterly indestructible. The wedding ring is in fact just that: a ring. It is an ongoing circle;; a never ending cycle of oppression. Demonstrably, the marital cycle does not end with Edna, no matter how desperately she longs for freedom. In fact, it is that intense passion that pulls her back into the cycle. Her vehement outburst attracted the attention of her maid, who found the ring on the floor and handed it back to Edna. Edna in turn “held out her hand, and taking the ring, slipped it upon her finger” (57). At this point in the passage, the struggle between Edna and the rest of society becomes increasingly evident. According to Pauline Weston Thomas of Fashion-­Era.com, “there were of course perceptive women of independent original thought, but for the huge majority life was easier if they accepted that a woman's place was in the home” (2014). Despite the fact that there were likely other women who felt the same way as Edna did about marriage, the greater part of society never even thought to question it. Consequently, those who shared Edna’s views were stifled by the majority. In this instance, the maid represents the society that will not allow Edna to live unconventionally and be free of her marriage. As a matter of fact, this same type of incident occured in the first chapter of the novel as well. Upon realizing that she was not wearing her rings, Edna gestures to Léonce to return them. He then “...dropped them into her palm. She slipped them upon her fingers” (7). When Edna accepted the ring from her maid in chapter seventeen, it contradicted the transition that was highlighted at the beginning of the passage. The fact that Enda once again accepted her wedding ring from someone else, once again allowed society to force her into reluctantly maintaining her role as a wife, contrasts the idea of a shift in Edna’s identity. By the end of the passage, we must consider the possibility that Edna has not made as much progress since the start of the novel as we had thought. Try as she might, Edna just cannot seem to resist putting the ring back on. But when fighting against society, nobody ever truly wins. Conformity, much like a wedding ring, is a never ending cycle from which there is ultimately no escape. Citations Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. NY, NY: Avon , a Division of the Hearst Corporation, 1899. Print. Felicia Appell. "Victorian Ideals." Victorian Ideals. McKendree University, 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2016. Thomas, Pauline Weston. "A Woman's Place In C19th Victorian History." A Woman's Place in Victorian Society. Fashion-Era, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016. ...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture