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Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" commences with the revelation of Edna’s budding friendship with Madame Ratignolle. Madame Ratignolle represents the embodiment of a stylish woman of those times. She brings to mind Edna’s deepest subdued desires and commences her process of liberating them. Her happiness and joy in her position as well as the system is attributed to Edna’s own inner peace and happiness. The connection of Robert to Edna makes stronger her desire to be liberated from her responsibilities as a mother and also wife. He goes ahead to befriend her and their relationship nurtures to a close one with time. His presence and companionship makes her have a sense of independence from her husband. This is revealed through the manner in which she relates with Robert. She finds it okay to confide in him than in her husband, Leonce. This attachment of Edna to Robert prompts Madame Ratignolle to ne concerned. She understands that Edna requires no temptation or encouragement in order to go after her rebellious aspirations. The Madame is aware that such association would divert the attention of Edna from her husband, children as well as social responsibilities (Chopin and Pamela 32).
Throughout the Awakening, there Edna seems to memorize an image of an open area which has neither a beginning nor an end. This mysterious field that keeps on popping up in her mind represents her craving for liberty (Taub 56). Furthermore, it brings out her thoughts of viewing some conventional systems of life as meaningless. The recurring images also personify the power and control she desires to attain. Edna feels hampered by the tasks she is obligated to undertake, based on women’s community responsibilities and the manner in which they are expected to carry themselves. With time, she manages to attain her dreams as she controls her life.
The presence of Robert in adds pomp and color to Edna’s life. He further educes her creativity as she follows her aspiration of painting. This makes her to abandon the traditional “woman’s duties”. In addition, Robert’s influence makes her to become wayward and more defiant to her husband. This is seen when she refuses to join her husband in bed asserting that she cannot be told what to do. She goes to bed at her will as she disregards the husband’s influence and control of her. This change in her behavior and attitude is greatly attributed to the influence brought about by Robert (Levine 103).
Consequently, the absence of Robert affects her personality. After realizing that he was falling love with Edna, a married lady whom he could not get, Robert shifts to Mexico. This move makes Edna feel deserted. In effect, she abandons her fixed social agenda and get more involved in painting pictures as well as moves into a novel house where she becomes her own boss. This makes her husband to leave the town. On the other hand, their children go to their grandparents place (Chopin 15). This leaves Edna with no responsibility and therefore, she dismisses a lot of her servants in order to get a better sense of freedom and independence.
The town’s ladies man, referred to as Arobin, gets to associate with Edna’s life and in turn becomes the man who fulfills her “sexual desires” (Taub 84). However, he is not emotionally attached to Edna as compared t o Robert. As much as he satisfies Edna’s sensual needs, she keeps a considerable distance in order to avoid being deeply attached to him. Robert’s presence is still felt by Edna as much as she is having a sexual relationship with Arobin. Her love for Robert can be simply replaced by this new relationship she has with Arobin. This can be based on the manner in which Robert used to treat her. He was not only a good company to her but also enabled her to sustain her independence. This freedom made her feel so happy in that she controlled her life.
Edna is also helped by Mademoiselle Reisz in breaking the hurdle concerning her favorite, fantastical realm and the manner in which she is expected to be conducting herself. The far-fetched commitment that Mademoiselle Reisz shows for her music distinguishes her from the normal women population of the time. Robert completely discloses to Mademoiselle Reisz of his passionate feelings for Edna. This is revealed in the way he expresses his ideas in the various letters which he has mailed Reisz. In turn, Mademoiselle Reisz inspires Edna to act with regard to her instincts and do anything as long as it guarantees her happiness. In essence, she intends to make Edna to keep an eye on her heart and instincts, unlike the perfect woman of the conventional period would inspire her to undertake (Chopin and Pamela 40). Had Edna not gotten married at a tender age and adapt to the responsibilities meant for women, she would have grown to be like Mademoiselle Reisz. The author brings to light the devotion of Edna to music. This enables her not to be influenced by any one. She comprehends the way art and music is appreciated by Edna. With this in mind, Edna is disrupted from performing her womanly duties.
The author’s style of disclosing to the audience these certainties is articulated through the characters. This is to express the bearing that exists between Edna and the literal representativeness in which women lived during the conventional times. Tone, similar to style, aids in the understanding of the characters and what they signify. It further provides Chopin with the opportunity to express her worries about the world by use of the characters. This is exemplified in the commencement of the book when Edna comes back from the beach. The reader receives a first impression of Mr. Pontlierre through his attitude. It reveals that he is possessive of his wife and that this society consents to such behavior (Levine 73).
Regardless of what Edna overhears about Mademoiselle Reisz, her first impression of Edna is that of a compassionate, wise and friendly woman. Reisz's tone backs these merits, and it eventually supports Edna to resolve what she requires to do. Mademoiselle provides counsel via an analogy of a fowl, expressing how one ought to have resilient wings in order to subsist, tolerate, and make it through the entire life journey. All the characters’ tones help to prompt Chopin's philosophies as well as what the characters epitomize. The tone, panache, and content of “The Awakening” not only aid in comprehending the characters and their literary potentials, but also the significance of these characters to predicaments dogging the society, for instance the feminist crusade (Chopin 54). The author’s technique addresses the complications faced by women in general while displaying specific dilemmas experienced by women in the past years.
In addition, the style employed by the author intends to aid the audience appreciate the personality of Edna and the impasses that she experiences as a married woman and individual in that period. For example, the start of the novel discloses a scene presenting the kind of person Mr. Pontlierre as well as showing the type of society that existed at the time. When Edna arrives back from the beach, she meets her husband who states that she was, "burnt beyond recognition" (Taub 92). While talking, he looks at his wife as a valuable piece of private possession which has undergone some damage. Within this background, Edna exists as a benefit to her husband as she is reflected as a ‘piece of property’. It is at this juncture that Edna begins to contemplate about her life.
The employment of symbolism in “The Awakening” is construed in various ways. It is essential to recognize the implication of every account of given symbols in order to effectively appreciate the novel. For instance, art has been used to symbolize both freedom and disappointment. It is via the route of trying to attain her desire of being an artist that Edna realizes the uppermost point of her awakening. Clothes have also been utilized to express symbolism (Chopin 115). At the beginning, Edna is introduced when she is completely dressed. Nevertheless, as time progresses, she starts to unclothe until she eventually goes into the water to die, totally undressed. "The Awakening" is efficient and effective in passing on of concepts and has magnificently utilized tone, style, and content to demonstrate these concepts.