© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Sea

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

On one hand the sea is a symbol of empowerment in The Awakening. In the sea, Edna learns to swim (and, by extension, learns that she does in fact have control over her own body). The sea also functions as a lover. Chopin writes: "The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace."

On the other hand, Edna drowns in the sea.

How are we supposed to read this apparent contradiction? Did Edna get (figuratively) too drunk off of empowerment and die? Or is this a deliberately circular choice by Edna, as in, she wanted her life to end where it truly began?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...