The Awakening

Chopin's Sea: Maternal or Mystical? College

In The Awakening, author Kate Chopin offers a tale of self exploration and fulfillment in protagonist Edna, who finds herself at odds with the warped society that is her reality. Taking place primarily in Louisiana islands, the Gulf of Mexico is perhaps, the second most important character in the piece. There are countless aquatic descriptions, but they are difficult to analyze as a whole. Depending on the perspective you lend yourself, the sea could seem predominantly male or predominantly female. Given the feminist nature of the novel, I choose to adopt the latter view. That isn't necessarily enough of a limitation, though. Given the setting and Chopin's dedication to regional writing, it's unlikely that she was not influenced or at least exposed to stories of Louisiana witchcraft or maritime witchcraft. While the sea mother characterization is more obvious, the witch helps account for the more sexual, phallic and alluring depictions of the water. Both personifications will be explored in this paper.

The scent of the sea comes up a few times in the book, as does the ocean breeze. Early references to the breeze coincide with discussion of the sensuous aroma of the sea, which could tempt an interpretation of the sea lover...

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