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The Foil In Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

439 words - 2 pages

Often times at the ocean, a pole can be seen protruding from the beneath the water. As the tide rises, less of the pole is visible. As it falls, more of it is visible. The pole stands as a stationary entity whose purpose is merely to measure the tide, the dynamic entity. In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Mme. Ratignolle stands as the static character by which the dynamic character, Edna, may be contrasted.The tide rises while Edna vacations at the Grand Isle. It is here that Edna begins "to realize her position in the universe as a human being," recognizing her interpersonal relations with ...view middle of the document...

Henceforth, as Edna returns to the city, she falls hopelessly out of control in her own metaphysical dilemma, passing from a tender mother to a distant wretch. She takes up painting in order to further immerse herself in herself. She becomes divorced from her children and M. Pontellier, becoming less a mother, less a wife or parent, until eventually scarcely a guardian or companion. She discards the interpersonal connections that she had explored while on vacation, especially disregarding contact with her family. Whereas, Adèle "worshiped" her husband and "idolized" her children , Edna would not stand for this subservience (8). By striving against her husband and children and falling into dark delusions of their "drive" to "possess her, body and soul," Edna finds herself drowning in a sea of defiance against only herself (124).With Edna's long-awaited "journey" complete, the reader is able to juxtapose her attitudes and their consequences with those of Mme. Ratignolle. Kate Chopin foreshadowed her conclusion by offering, "The voice of the sea is seductive...inviting the soul to wander for a spell of abysses of solitude," indicating her deportation from reality into the vainness of her imagination (15). The vague and saddening note of Chopin's closing is reminiscent of Longfellow's lines,The day returns, but nevermoreReturns the traveler to the shore.And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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