Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Imagery and Symbolism in the First and Final Passages of Chopin’s The Awakening :: Chopin Awakening Essays

Imagery and Symbolism in the First and Final Passages of Chopin’s The Awakening The two passages at the beginning and ending of The Awakening illustrate symbolically Edna’s degeneration from strong-willed, vivacious, and highly individual to tired and resigned. The passage begins with color symbolism: the parrot is yellow and green. As someone in class pointed out last week, yellow often symbolized cowardice or fear while green symbolizes youth, newness, or growth. As the parrot is specifically described as being caged, this color symbolism could illustrate Edna’s fear either of being confined or of all that breaking away from confinement would entail. Next, the parrot â€Å"kept repeating over and over,† indicating persistence; though confined, it is determined. The phrase it repeats in French translates to â€Å"Go away, for God’s sake!† With this phrase the parrot attempts to separate from some force of opposition. Also, the fact that it speaks French as well as Spanish â€Å"and also a language which nobody understood† suggests that, like Edna’s understanding of her identity as a woman, her individuality, and her sexuality, by knowing several languages the parrot also understands more than does the average person (or bird?), though it is itself misunderstood. The mockingbird serves as an antagonist to the parrot, or a symbolic representation of the forces that oppose Edna. The description of its â€Å"fluty notes† sounds pretty and feminine, in contrast with the harshness of the parrot; similarly, Edna struggles with the pretty, feminine roles that are forced upon her within her society with â€Å"maddening persistence,† a constant threat to drown out the parrot’s, and Edna’s, voice. The ending passage shows none of the conflict imagery as does the beginning, but rather images of giving up. â€Å"The old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again† refers on the surface to Edna’s fear of swimming, but could on another level indicate the fear hinted at in the first passage that drove her to grow and fight. Hence her drive has, like the terror, sunk, ceased to be. The image of the old dog contrasts with the lively image of the parrot; while caged, there is little fight against it. The fact that the dog is old suggests dullness and sedentariness; it probably isn’t going anywhere. There is still confinement, but no struggle. Also the cavalry officer could represent an army. An army is something that cannot be conquered, as are the forces in Edna’s life that cause her to do what she is about to do.

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