The Awakening

by

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening: Metaphors 1 key example

Definition of Metaphor
A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things by saying that one thing is the other. The comparison in a metaphor can be stated explicitly, as... read full definition
A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things by saying that one thing is the other. The comparison in a metaphor... read full definition
A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things by saying that one thing is the other... read full definition
Chapter 3
Explanation and Analysis—Mother-Women:

Early on in the novel, Léonce Pontellier ruminates on his wife's mothering. Summarizing his complaints, the narrator describes Edna as “not a mother-woman.” Then, the narrator uses a metaphor to describe "mother-women":

[...] seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels. 

The narrator indirectly compares the women of Grand Isle to hens protective of their offspring. In using this specific figurative language, the narrator suggests Victorian society views femininity as ingrained, instinctual, or even animalistic (in the sense of it being natural or primal for women) and deems women who fail to exemplify these ideals as unnatural or abnormal. The mother-women, unlike Edna, embody Victorian ideals of femininity.  However, the use of the phrase “efface themselves,” as if the women are erasing themselves or becoming invisible because of this femininity, suggests that the narrator disagrees with such restrictive norms and is critical of the "mother-women" who follow them.