Illuminating Scene in The Awakening
Novelist Edith Whorton states that a novelist “must rely on what may be called the illuminating incident to reveal and emphasize the inner meaning” of the book. In the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin, the illuminating episode is when Edna has an epiphany after swimming out into the sea. She comes to the realization that she can speak freely and share her emotions openly as she finds it liberating. This moment functions as a casement that reveals the overall meaning of the work as a whole that women should feel free to practice individuality over conformity and sexuality over repression.
Edna’s epiphany in the sea serves as a casement that opens the meaning of the work because this is when she first comes to the awareness that she should not conform to Victorian Society. Edna no longer feels the pressure to obey her husbands every demand as an ungovernable feeling came upon her while she was swimming. The water symbolized her freedom and escape of societal norms. Chopin’s use of similes to describe her metamorphosis like an overconfident child who first learns to walk illuminates her newfound power and desire for sexual satisfaction and freedom. This is significant because this was not expected of women during this era who were traditionally the mother-wives that took care of their children and obeyed their husbands. The episode is necessary as it enables Chopin to later uncover that women should act upon feelings of individuality and sexuality.
Edna’s discovery of feelings of empowerment after she enters the sea allows Chopin to reveal that women should not conform to society and feel repressed. Her new sense of power can be seen in the scene as...
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