How does Chopin depict Edna's transformation in The Awakening?

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Chopin depicts Edna's transformation, in part, through the symbols of the sea and music. Edna has a sexual awakening as well as an emotional one when she falls in love with Robert Lebrun at Grand Isle, a summer resort for New Orleans elite families. She begins to understand the...

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Chopin depicts Edna's transformation, in part, through the symbols of the sea and music. Edna has a sexual awakening as well as an emotional one when she falls in love with Robert Lebrun at Grand Isle, a summer resort for New Orleans elite families. She begins to understand the social mores that have long controlled her, as well as her own complacency, and she determines that she will no longer do things as though she were on the "daily treadmill of the life which has been portioned out to us."

Edna has never learned to swim, and she suddenly determines to learn, a symbol of her growing independence and unwillingness to be restrained by social rules and traditions anymore. Further, the sea is always described in a very sensual way, emphasizing Edna's new ideas about her body:

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude ... The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

At the same time that the narrator describes the sea like this, the narrator says that a "certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within [Edna]." In addition, the effect music has on Edna seems to be connected to her growing awareness of her own desires—both physical and emotional. When she hears Mademoiselle Reisz play the piano,

the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body. She trembled, she was choking, and the tears blinded her.

We see here how Edna's emotional growth and awakening is very much connected to her new physical awareness and how her transformations are developed through the use of these two symbols.

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