Bird Imagery in the Awakening

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Throughout The Awakening, Kate Chopin conveys her ideas by using carefully crafted symbols that reflect her characters' thoughts and futures. One of the most important of these symbols, the bird, appears constantly, interwoven in the story to provide an insight to the condition of Edna's and her struggle. At each of the three stages of her struggle, birds foreshadow her actions and emphasize the actions' importance while the birds' physical state provides an accurate measure …

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…it falls back to earth and suffers defeat. Edna soon does the same when she kills herself because she does not possess "the courageous soul that dares and defies" (116). Though at times the symbol is over-used and obvious, birds plays the two important roles of foreshadowing Edna's future and gauging her success. While in the beginning, they mirror her actions and depict her feelings, in the end, they show her failure in escaping from society.