The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, tells the story of Edna Pontellier; a .
women trying to come to means with her life in a world of restrictions. Chopin .
cleverly creates an image of Edna slowly rebelling in a society that restricts .
women the right to be an individual. Edna's boundaries and restrictions can be .
seen by the clothing she wears.
Clothing is used as an important symbol in the novel. For instance, .
Edna's clothing was very modest, much like her life. The clothing she wore can .
represent a "cage" which is obvious when we see Edna and Adele walking to the .
beach in chapter seven. Adele wore a veil, "doe skin gloves, white gauntlets . .
was dressed in pure white, with a fluffiness of ruffles that became her." On the .
other hand, Edna "wore a cool muslin that morning . a white linen collar and a .
big straw hat." We learn that "a casual and indiscriminating observer . might not .
cast a second glance" towards Edna. Edna, simply dressed, is thought to be .
defying her role in society by showing her true self. When Adele and Edna get to .
the beach, Edna removes her collar and unbuttons her dress at the throat. By .
stripping away her garments Edna foreshadows the rebellion to come. .
Prior to the end of the novel Edna is seen stripping away her clothes. .
Chopin writes, "there beside the sea, absolutely alone, she cast the unpleasant, .
prickling garments from her, and for the first time in her life stood naked in the .
open air." This represents Edna removing her final confinements to achieve her .
freedom. Liberated, "She felt like some new born creature opening its eyes in a .
familiar world that it had never known." Edna now standing free knew that society .
would never accept her, slowly waded into the water.
In all, Kate Chopin used Edna's clothing to symbolize the restrictions .
placed upon her. As Edna breaks away from these limitations, she is stripping .
away her garments. This "stripping away" foreshadows her rebellion until she is .