Sea Of Change Essay, Research Paper
Sea of Safety
The sea in the The Awakening is the inner struggle that Edna deals with involving
desires and dreams, the place where her rebellious spririt has found a home. From her
unhappy marriage and home life, her desire to discover herself, to the disappointments of
love and life,the sea in the Awakening represents a woman?s burdens, independence, and
her true fulfillment. For the character Edna Pontellier, the sea is her beginning and end.
The voice of the seas is seductive; never ceasin, whipering, clammoring,
murmruing, invitiong the sould to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose
itelf in mazes of inward contemplation.(1100)
The sea is black, dark and has an overwhelming sense of being controlled by
nothing. Edna sees it as all of the burdens she has before her as a southern, white woman
trying to squeeze into the tight, firm, mold of the Creole wife and mother. As much as
she tries to be a good mother and wife, she contunuelly compares herself to Madame
Ratignolle which she cannot live up to. ?In short, Mrs. Pontellier was nto a
mother-woman.?(1018) Where Edna?s rebellious stresak had pushed her into her
marriage with Leonce Pontellier, this same rebellion is beginning to push her out. She
sees the marriage now, as purely an accident. ? As the devoted wife of a man who
worshipped her, she felt she would take her place with certain dignity int he world of
reality, closing the portals oforever behind her upon the realm of romance and
dreams.?(1026) The more Edna learns about heself the more those portals start to open.
To change herself and embrace the darkness, facing it head on, would mean all that has
been carefully placed and planned out may be shattered. She longs to loosen the tight
grip her husband has on her, and to destroy the control he has established.
Once she stopped, and taking off her wedding ring, flung it upon the carpet.
When she saw it lying there, she stamped her heel upon it, striving to crush it.
But her small boot heel did not make an indenture, not a mark upon the little
glittering circlet. In a sweeping passion she seized a glass vase from the table and
flung it upon he tiles of the hearth. She wanted to destroy something.(1052)
As the sea continues to tempt her, the desire to leave the safety of the harbor and
be open to change becomes more intense. A new way of thinking and a renewed
independence becomes more realistic with every step towards the now almost sensuous
sea: ?The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding
the body its soft, close embrace.?(1022) Edna is drawing from the ocean a sense of
security and false independence.
As Edna begins to explore her strength or lack there of, in the dark, black sea, she
begins her plight of independence. As a source for rebellion and independence, Edna
falls in love with Robert LeBrun. He is absolutely everything her husband is not. When
Robert announces his plans to leave for Mexico, this only heightens Edna Pontellier?s
need for independence; As she now feels alone in her unraveling world. When the family
returns home, she takes up painting, long lonely strolls, and canceling her visiting days,
as a means of slowly breaking those social expectations that have been placed on her.
She takes another lover, Arobin, to keep the feeling of infatuation, sensuality, and
rebellion in her life. Renting a house was also a huge step, and not something that people
looke upon favorablly. When Robert returns, Edna is ready to break every rule possible
to be with her true love. To leave her children, as she knows they will be cared for just
as they have theinr entire lives and and to finally break free of her husbands tight strict
Creole grip. What good is it to be independent, free and have no one to love or be loved
in return? Doing only what is to be expected from true, forbidden love, Robert leaves
Edna alone to face her monotonous marriage.
In yet another attempt to escape, Edna flees to the sea: ?for the first time in her
life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon
her, and the waves that invited her.?(1100) This foreshadows or leads to the thought that
Edna won?t ever really escape and will end up giving in as she does. She is at the mercy
of the elements.
Again the author repeats:? the touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in
its soft, close embrace.? (1101) To remind us, how Edna longed for the idependence
that she saw in the restless waves. Her passion growing so intense it needed some outlet
to dispurse. Her husband in her mind, was not worthy, and her lover had turned her way.
The sea called to this woman?s soul and it will help put out the flames of desire and of
being ?awakened,? with its cool embrace.
In the beginning of the novel, the sea was something to be feared, the unknown
and unexperienced. The fear of never taking the chance to experience the sensations it
has to offer tempted her in over her head. Then it becomes her safety in its ?embrace.?
This safety sends Edna off with a false sense of independence. Realizing the absence of
that safety in her life she comes crawling back to the false haven of the ocean once again:
Only ?she did not look back now…?( 1101)
She left her controlling husband, the demands of motherhood, the pretensions of
independence, the ? love that could never be? and released herself to the mercy of the
sea and all of its promises. She finally becomes independent and makes up her mind,
decides her fate, and embraces it whole heartedly.