Jan 25, 2018 in Literature


In literature, terms are normally symbolically used as contextual images that require insightful analysis in order to understand their actual meaning. Symbolism, for that matter, has enabled writers to agitate for equality in human race that do not depict one individual as superior over the other. In Kate Chopin’s literature, The Awakening, sea has been symbolically used in agitating for the need for human liberty by enhancing the sense of self-identity and individuality. This paper thus uses the theory of feminist in interpreting the significance of the sea in the literature.

Symbolism is a literary device used to provide an image of something in a conventional context that requires insightful determination and analysis in identifying its actual meaning. In Kate Chopin’s, The Awakening literature, the term “sea” has being used symbolically in representing various underlying meanings especially in regards to Edna’s life. This paper thus uses the theory of feminist in interpreting the significance of the sea in The Awakening.

Significance of Symbolic Use of Sea in the Literature

Feminist theory is one of the sociological theories that try to understand the status of gender inequality in the society. According to Rong (2009), sea has been used symbolically in The Awakening novel as an element that enhances individualism which is also the basis of feminist theory. For instance, when Edna recollects her ocean-like meadow with her current situation, she is depicted as have regained her individuality. It is this which has given her more freedom to overcome the binding external forces.

Rong (2006) adds that, on learning how to swim, Edna recalls, “A feeling of exultation that overtook her…, and gives her control over her body and soul.” This shows that the sea was an external nurturing force that enables her to sail through the family and social understanding in depicting her individualism. This enables her to overcome the oppressing forces. It is also noted that on returning to the sea, Edna flashback on her childhood characteristic of being a fearless little girls who would move on regardless of existing external forces.

Additionally, the sea has been used as a mirror that enhances Edna’s self-reflection and identity in overcoming social forces that prevented her from moving on. Rong (2006) argues that by Edna embracing the sea, she was able to identify the basic elements of her identity. This gave her freedom through the understanding that no individual can posses her, rather than her self. This is also in line with feminist theory that agitates for self-identity and self-awareness in liberating women from oppression.


In conclusion, symbolism can thus effectively be used as an element that gives human a self-reflection and thus enhancing his/her identify. Therefore, there is need for the continued utilization of symbolic elements in literature to help agitate for human freedom.


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