The Awakening

by

Kate Chopin

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The Awakening: Personification 1 key example

Definition of Personification
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the... read full definition
Chapter 6
Explanation and Analysis—Voice of the Sea:

Chapter 6 opens with Edna declining Robert's invitation to the beach, even though she senses a desire within herself to go. Experiencing this inner conflict causes Edna to “realize her position in the universe as a human being” and her “relations as an individual to the world within and about her.” The novel personifies the sea to represent the tumult of Edna's desires:

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

Edna is in the process of sensing the gap between one's inner life and how one acts and appears to others. The narrator describes this experience of gaining self-knowledge as tumultuous by giving the sea human-like qualities, namely the ability to touch and speak. While the sea is characterized as sensuous and enticing in nature, the use of the word “abysses'' suggests it also contains a dangerous element. This foreshadows Edna’s death by drowning at the end of the novel.

The characterization of the sea as an active force is a sentiment that Chopin repeats throughout The Awakening. The personification of the sea comes up again in Chapter 12, after Edna begins to feel ill during mass. Robert takes Edna outside and she marvels at the sounds around her: 

“How still it was, with only the voice of the sea whispering through the reeds that grew in the salt-water pools!” 

Again, the book emphasize's the sea's magnetic quality by personifying it. Edna is drawn to the sea; it seems to whisper and call to her. This is particularly important because when Edna later learns to swim in the Gulf, the sea becomes a symbol of her newfound sense of freedom and independence. The personification in these passages thus emphasizes how deeply—and at this stage, subconsciously—Edna yearns for freedom.

Chapter 12
Explanation and Analysis—Voice of the Sea:

Chapter 6 opens with Edna declining Robert's invitation to the beach, even though she senses a desire within herself to go. Experiencing this inner conflict causes Edna to “realize her position in the universe as a human being” and her “relations as an individual to the world within and about her.” The novel personifies the sea to represent the tumult of Edna's desires:

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

Edna is in the process of sensing the gap between one's inner life and how one acts and appears to others. The narrator describes this experience of gaining self-knowledge as tumultuous by giving the sea human-like qualities, namely the ability to touch and speak. While the sea is characterized as sensuous and enticing in nature, the use of the word “abysses'' suggests it also contains a dangerous element. This foreshadows Edna’s death by drowning at the end of the novel.

The characterization of the sea as an active force is a sentiment that Chopin repeats throughout The Awakening. The personification of the sea comes up again in Chapter 12, after Edna begins to feel ill during mass. Robert takes Edna outside and she marvels at the sounds around her: 

“How still it was, with only the voice of the sea whispering through the reeds that grew in the salt-water pools!” 

Again, the book emphasize's the sea's magnetic quality by personifying it. Edna is drawn to the sea; it seems to whisper and call to her. This is particularly important because when Edna later learns to swim in the Gulf, the sea becomes a symbol of her newfound sense of freedom and independence. The personification in these passages thus emphasizes how deeply—and at this stage, subconsciously—Edna yearns for freedom.

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