Literary Device Dictionary

Bergan Hilger

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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Since Celia's husband and Victor cannot get along, this causes Edna's mental state to take turn for the worse. The following quote expresses the relationship between Celia's husband and Victor using a hyperbole. Feeling aggressive towards Celia's husband,"...Victor intended to hammer his head into a jelly the next time he encountered him" (Chopin 153). This is essential to the story because in the Southern Isles many families vacation together. This dispute between Victor and the husband creates a tension between the families, causing them to be outcasted. Celia being outcasted is a problem because Edna , the protagonist of the story, is unable to confide in her friend. This is disastrous for Edna's already rapidly suffering mental state, because if she were to communicate her thoughts and feelings to Celia it would cause her to be outcasted as well. The argument without the hyperbole wouldn't have been as effective because it's acutely showing the strong feelings of hatred.


Despite the warning Mrs. Ratignolle gives to Robert telling him to stay away from Edna, Robert negates her advice and engages her anyway. While talking to Robert about Edna, Adele states, "She is not one of us; she is not like us. She might make the unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously" (Chopin 26). The foreshadowing used, warns readers of what may happen if Edna does take Robert seriously. The literary device is very important to the text as it demonstrates to everyone that Edna may take Robert's flirtations seriously, as she will later on in the book, causing problems for her and her family. His flirtations help her realize how unhappy she is in her life and marriage and ultimately leads to her own suicide.


As for Edna's appearance, the surrounding crowd took in her beauty and admired her goddess like features. Because Mrs. Pontellier is compared to Aphrodite being born, the reader is provided with a visual of how unearthly beautiful Edna appeared to those around her. "Venus rising from the foam could have presented no more entrancing a spectacle than Mrs. Pontellier, blazing with beauty and diamonds at the head of the board..." (Chopin chapt 39). The allusion is representing both women that emerged from the sea were beautiful and created a speactacle meant for those around them to take notice. This is essential to the storyline because this is one of the last times that Edna will be seen by those around her and she will leave a long lasting, positive self image.


In regard to the sea, Edna is captivated by and drawn to the haven the sea offers her. Showing Edna's thoughts about the sea, "The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation" (Chopin 162). The quote above, is saying that the sea lures people in, and calls to them to explore. It was used in the book to further explain how Edna felt when she looked at the waves, always surrounding her house. When Mrs. Pontellier follows through with her decision to take her own life, she chooses to drown herself in the sea she always sees as hopeful and inspirational.


As Edna learns to swim, she takes back control of her body and life and begins to make choices as she pleases. Edna wishes to prove to those around her how she daring she is by breaking society's rules. "She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before" (Chopin 37). . In the beginning of the book, she feels when she learned to swim, her life truly began because she was able to take control of her life. At the end of the story, Edna takes her life by drowning in the water. This is significant because her death resulted in the very place she felt her life began. She chose the water instead of any other place because the ocean was the symbol of her freedom.


While Edna stewed over the comments she overheard from her high society friends, she grew increasingly upset with her husband's actions. "The ladies, selecting with dainty and discriminating finger and a little greedily, all declared that Mr. Pontelier was the best husband in the world. Mrs. Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better" (Chopin 9). The irony in this scene is shown when Mrs. Pontellier admits that she doesn't know a better husband than her own. Just the previous day she threw and crushed her wedding ring in a fit of rage at her husband after he went to the bar for many hours. Throughout the story this is important because her unhappiness with her marriage is partly what leads to her self-destruction.

Tragic Hero

Throughout the story, Edna grew more isolated and increasingly desperate for attention. Taking place right before Edna's death,"Exhaustion was pressing upon and overpowering her. 'Good-bye-- because I love you"'(Chopin 156). The community perceived Edna as a loving mother and caring wife, who had no other options but to commit suicide, when in reality, it was her own choices that led to her death. She felt alone with no other choices because she was unhappy in her marriage and having many affairs, while the one she truly loved left her for adventure. She also isolated herself from her closest friends and family leaving only herself to share her problems with.

Comic Relief

As Edna and Robert walk back up from the beach, Edna's husband is very upset with the time she spent with Robert. Describing Edna as she relays her and Roberts adventures,"She slipped them upon her fingers; then, clasping her knees, she looked across at Robert and began to laugh.... He sent back an answering smile"(Chopin 3). This creates an air thick with tension as the small party of 3 gather on the porch. The story without the comedic relief could become an awkward situation because both men feel uncomfortable with the others attraction for Edna. The comic relief is shown right after Edna's husband becomes uncomfortable with her and Robert's interaction. Robert also begins feeling uncomfortable when he realizes Mr. Pontellier is listening to his and Edna's adventures he feels are sacred to them.


This moment is very impactful on Edna because of the tragic events that will follow. To begin, Edna has just woke up from her nap, and Robert and her take a walk while her husband and children remain in the house. Robert, who she begins to develop feelings for, reveals he will be leaving soon to make a life In Mexico. Describing her surroundings when she wakes up "...under the orange trees, while the sun dipped lower and lower, turning the western sky to flaming copper and gold. the shadows lengthened and crept out like stealthy, grotesque monsters across the grass" (Chopin 83). After Robert leaves to Mexico, Edna will recall this memory to ease her pain from him leaving. This is important because when Edna loses all hope, she'll remember this time with Robert as the last goof thing that happened to her. For a short time period this helps her through the other troubles in life from her marriage and friends.


Throughout the story of The Awakening, men are constantly given rights women are not provided with. Women of the high society the Pontellier's belong to lack respect and the option to share their opinion. Edna's friends speaking of her say, “She's got some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women”(Chopin 67). This is important because this is the ongoing theme of Edna gaining her freedom and her journey to self-actualization. This will help not only Edna but those surrounding her begin getting and fighting for more of the rights their husbands are unquestionably been given.