Symbolism of the Sea
In Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” the sea is symbolic throughout the novel, mostly symbolizing the rush that it brings Edna. When Edna finally learns how to swim, she gets a taste of freedom and the power she has within herself. She recalls, "A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before. (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 10, para. 7)” Her feelings of euphoria come from the "power" that she newly received, which feels as if she has never been in control. The mention of "her soul" shows that her feeling transcends beyond the being able to swim. As Edna swims out farther, the novel reads, "She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and solitude, which the vast expanse of water, meeting and melting with the moonlit sky, conveyed to her excited fancy. As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself. (Chopin, 2005, Chapter 10, para. 10)” The farther Edna is away from the people on the beach, the closer she is to the “unlimited.” In that instant, the sea becomes the sanctuary in which Edna can "lose" her superficial self. Then there is nothing left but the essence of her being and the power she has over herself. References
Chopin, K. (2005). The awakening [VitalSource digital version]. Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press.
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