The Awakening by Kate Chopin's is a controversial novel full of symbolism. The meaning of each place and objects creates major symbols throughout the novel. She uses many symbolic meanings throughout the story to describe the emotional state of the character Edna. Among the many symbolic reflections include art birds, sleep, clothing, the moon, and the ocean; birds were one of the most used symbols that reflected foreshadowing. "Every object and figure has not only a literal domestic function and a dreamlike symbolic radiance but a distinctively female symbolic significance." (Sandra Gilbert, 47).
The bird imagery in The Awakening describes Edna's personality. The first line of the novel is about a pair of birds at the door of the summer cottage. One is a parrot, a bird of beauty and value. The other is a mockingbird, a bird that is extremely common and of little or no monetary value. The mockingbird's value is the music it makes. These birds symbolize Edna being the parrot and Ms. Reisz being the mockingbird. Edna is beautiful and has a place in society as Leonce's wife. Ms. Reisz is a plain woman and is only tolerated by society because she makes beautiful music. The Birds like both women are in cages. The advantage in being the mockingbird is that no one cares that you even exist. They leave these "common" birds alone and occupy themselves in watching and admiring the parrots. Even the names of these birds signify the character's personalities. The parrot parrots what it hears in its environment. It just repeats what it hears, it isn't unique. The mockingbird mocks. While it does copy what it hears it rearranges these sounds to create new combinations and new thoughts. The wild birds symbolize the freedom Edna's awakening leads her to desire. They fly freely through the air. They exist in a world of little resistance. Edna's world, which is a cage, is full of resistance or rather duties, obligations, and responsibilities designed to limit thoughts and activities.