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In The Awakening, caged birds serve as reminders of Edna’s entrapment and also of the entrapment of Victorian women in general.Madame Lebrun’s parrot and mockingbird represent Edna and Madame Reisz, respectively.
Consider the idea of the “mother women" such as Adele Ratignolle versus more independent women such as Mademoiselle Reisz and look at the way each woman fits into (or doesn’t) the greater society around her.
In this paradigm Edna is caught between her desires for independence and freedom and the constraining notions of Victorian society.
She is not only waking up her understanding of herself as an individual and as a woman who does not find herself happy in the domestic world of her peers, she is also awakening to herself as a sexual being.
Throughout the novel, there are many examples of different kinds of awakenings; from her awakening to herself as an artist when she tries to paint, her waking up to the realization that she can appreciate music, and to the fact that her life up until this point has been unfulfilling.
She threw her arms as if swimming when she walked, beating the tall grass as one strikes out in the water" (17).“But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who all of a sudden realizes its power and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over confidence. Even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life" (50).“A certain light was beginning to dawn dimply within her—the light which, showing the way, forbids it" (53).(Mademoiselle Reisz) “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.
She could have shouted with joy" (23).“The years that are gone seem like dreams-if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth" (82).“A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled, down, down to the water" (108).“She cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first time in her life, she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her" (108).
Because of the way Edna chooses individuality over conformity, sexuality over repression, and art over entertaining she is acting as a feminist—even at a time when this was not a common concept.
For this essay choose three of four aspects to her character or events in the story (such as her getting her own place or taking a lover for instance) and examine them closely to look for ways in which Edna promotes feminist ideals Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Context of the Victorian Era In the Victorian society in which this novel takes place, there are many strict behavioral and other conventions that must be adhered to, particularly for women.
These thesis statements offer a summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them.
Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper. Click Here for a Free Detailed Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of “The Awakening”Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Layered Significance of the Title The title of Kate Chopin’s novella is significant because it refers to the many ways in which Edna begins to awaken to the world around her.