The Awakening: Themes and Key Quotations

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  • The Awakening: Themes and Key Quotes
    • Relationships and society
      • Leonce
      • Robert
        • Grand isle
        • Departure
        • Return
      • Arobin
    • Characters and their influence on Edna
    • Birds
      • Caged parrot
        • Represents Edna at the start of her journey
          • Trapped in societal expectation, longing for freedom
            • Idea of a parrot suggests Edna feels as though she is mimicking other women
          • Speaks a 'language which nobody understood' (1)
            • Cannot break out of societal expectation in fear of lack of acceptance
          • 'Allez vous-en!' (1), Go away! suggests Edna's cry to escape Leonce from the beginning
            • This is juxtaposed immediately with Leonce's 'exclamation of disgust'
              • Shows the sheer difference and in-compatibility of the two from the offset
                • Similar to Donne's metaphorical conceit in 'The Flea', using the insect to project the narrators intentions, however as Edna initially flourishes before her fall, the flea seems doomed from the start
                  • The contrast in voice; The Awakening being almost entirely female and The Flea having this subliminal female voice but predominantly male suggests the changing attitudes towards love and relationships, with Edna representing the control and individuality women strive to gain
      • Pigeon house
        • Upon taking independence of her life, Edna moves out of her home and into her own apartment
          • Although not spectacular, the idea that she has moved on from a caged bird and transformed into a free, less elegant pigeon suggests her denial of social expectation of women and relationships
            • 'Whatever was her own... she transported to the other house', taking her possessions away from Leonce and his collection of things signifies her removal of herself from that chapter of her life
              • 'descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual' (32)
      • Final bird image
        • At the end of her journey, the final bird image embodies the outcome of Edna's awakening
          • Having challenged society and attempted to break free of her proverbial cage, this broken bird symbolises her defeat and her inevitably tragic demise
            • 'A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water' (39)
              • Mirrors ideas in 'Who so lyst', where Wyatt suggests he is 'wearied' from the chase, using this idea that those who attempt to challenge society often do not succeed
    • The children
    • Identity
    • Liberation or failure?

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