’s Struggles… Essay, Research Paper
In the begging of chapter 10 a crowd makes their way down to the beach. All summer Edna has been unable to learn to swim. She suddenly decides to swim where no woman has swum before. As she enters the water, everyone praises her success. As she swims out further and realizes how far she has gone, she gets the feeling of death, and struggles back to shore. I think that learning to swim is a metaphor for Edna s sexual awakenings. Her success at swimming symbolizes her desire to rebel against the social conventions. On the other side of it, Edna s rebellious actions are not as strong as the will she needs to handle the consequences of defying the social conventions of the society. Edna s failed attempt to swim where no woman has swum before foreshadows her eventual suicide.
Edna s sexual awakening grows as she lies on her porch hammock. In the silence, Edna feels an intense desire for Robert. In the Victorian society women were not supposed to have sexual feelings that were not directed towards their husbands. These feelings explain Edna s growth as an individual.
Furthermore, when Edna decides to move into her own house, she takes only things that she has bought with her own money. Her move represents her continuing quest for independence. During her move Edna wears only an old gown and a handkerchief, not her usual confining clothes that are set by society. Edna calls her house the “pigeon house.” Birds have a symbolic meaning in the whole book, Edna has chose to fly and overcome the social conventions. Later when Edna goes to the beach, she removes all of her clothing, the final layers of restricting clothing and stands naked on the beach. A bird with a broken wing crashes into the ocean. The bird symbolizes Edna’s failure to achieve the goal that she has been trying to attain throughout the novel. Throughout the novel, Edna seeks independence. Her series of awakenings are mostly about achieving this goal. In the end, Edna s freedom is achieved by death. Death is the only freedom that social conventions allow her.