Is my thesis statement well-thought out in regards to symbolism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening?   Here it is:In the course of her novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin sets out two significant symbols that are the birds and the sea, which emphasizes Edna Pontellier’s new life. If this thesis statement needs improvement, please let me know of where I've gone wrong. I know I have a topic and a controlling idea, but am I lacking in anything? Thank you.

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Your thesis statement focuses on the two major symbols of Chopin's The Awakening: birds and the sea. What your thesis is missing is a more specific claim about how these symbols connect to the novel as a whole, or how they contribute to the novel's themes.

Both birds and the sea are, as you note, related to "Edna Pontellier's new life." However, you don't say yet how exactly these symbols allow Chopin to "emphasize" that post-awakening life.

The sea is a bit more obvious as a symbol. The sea is described as "sensuous" and it "speaks to her soul." Being at Grand Isle that pivotal summer, Edna becomes aware of her more instinctual self, the self that does not want to expend energy to conform to the society around her. Though she only comes to this awareness gradually, and maybe even only then in part, the narrator tells us that this is the effect of the sea on Edna. And it's no surprise that it's a natural element that awakens her senses.

Bird symbolism is more complex. The novel starts out with a bird in a cage speaking French. The bird comes to symbolize Edna, and birds continue to be associated with Edna. The other most significant scenes related to birds are when Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz and she feels Edna's shoulder blades to see if they are strong enough for "flight," and the corresponding scene when a bird with a broken wing flies over Edna as she swims into the Gulf of Mexico to commit suicide. The reader is left to wonder whether Reisz would see Edna as a failure in that moment; perhaps she was not strong enough to escape the strictures of society.

A more specific thesis would deal with the complex meanings of the symbols and would be explicit about how the symbols relate to Edna's character development in the novel as a whole.

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In terms of direction, the thesis statement that you have written is quite adequate. It provides ample direction to your reader about what you intend to write about and prove. You will focus on two symbols, and those symbols are significant because they emphasize Edna Pontellier’s new life. Regarding this particular statement's cohesive flow, it could use a little bit of work. In my opinion, it's just a little too "wordy," but it would not be much work to tighten it up a bit, perhaps into something like the following thesis statement.

Although The Awakening is full symbolism, the birds and the sea are the most significant because of their link to Edna Pontellier's new life.

That particular thesis is actually a little bit broader than your initial thesis. It allows you to discuss more symbols in addition to the birds and the sea. This allows you to provide evidence to your reader that highlights why the birds and the sea are so much more important to the character's new life than other symbols.

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Your thesis statement is adequate if it is your intention to devote your entire paper to the symbolism of birds and the sea in Kate Chopin's novel. I have provided some reference links below this answer box which may be helpful to you. I think your thesis statement could use a little polishing, and I am offering a slightly revised version of it herewith.

Throughout her novel The Awakening Kate Chopin employs two significant symbols, the birds and the sea, in order to capture the feeling of liberation in Edna Pontellier's new life of freedom from social pressure and an unsatisfactory marriage.

Of course, there are many ways of expressing the same general idea, and you might want to tinker with my suggested version because you undoubtedly know the novel much better than I do. I did read  The Awakening  and admired it, but that was over twenty years ago.

 

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