The Awakening

Significance of the Sea in The Awakening 11th Grade

In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, the sea symbolizes Edna’s freedom from oppression. Edna feels suffocated by conventional society and has no interest in being a devoted wife or mother. She feels trapped with Leonce and her children, but does not have the abilities required to start a new life as an independent artist. Edna ultimately faces choosing between staying with Leonce, in which she would remain miserable, or breaking free from her marriage but having nowhere to go. The sea, though intimidating to Edna at first, allows Edna to escape the pressures of society, and brings Edna her best option and desired solitude in death.

Throughout the novel, the sea calls to Edna, inviting her to escape. “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude” (115). Edna wants to learn how to swim, and finally does so in Chapter X:

Edna had attempted all summer to learn to swim. She had received instructions from both the men and women; in some instances from the children. Robert had pursued a system of lessons almost daily; and he was nearly at the point of discouragement in realizing the futility of his efforts. A certain...

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