A Comparison between “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and “Wild Swans” by Edna St. Vincent Millay Essay (Critical Writing)
Chopin’s work was published in 1899 while Millay’s work was published in 1921. This period was marked by cultural transformations and technological advancements. This paper shall discuss the similarities and dissimilarities between the two works.
Chopin’s main stylistic legacy is the objectivity of the narrator. The narrator treats women’s concerns without contempt and does not offer either an appraisal or a judgment on the protagonist’s deeds.
This is completely at odds with the existing Victorian trend to narrative judgment and perception remarks. The narrator neither applauds nor criticizes Edna. The person who reads is left to evaluate the protagonist’s deeds, which is the novel’s greatest stylistic choice. On the other hand, Millay brings in several literacy devices to add intensity to the poem.
The swans represent freedom and conviction; that the orator expresses them as wild stresses their totally free survival and their instinctual sense of being. The heart signifies the speaker’s whole emotional truth, including past and present feelings. Millay also uses personification when she describes the heart as “tiresome heart, forever living and dying” (Millay 1).
The two works share the themes of feminism, emotions and liberty. Edna’s uncovering of feelings that she has long subdued inspire her hunt for freedom, love and self-expression. Her bond with Robert Lebrun arouses gone physical needs and makes her to reflect on her life.
For once, she starts to be open to other people. She shares secrets with Ratignolle and Robert and lets herself to be stimulated by Reisz’s music. She trains to swim, further understand the power of the link between body and mind and admits her feelings about Robert. She also fights to reconcile her views on motherhood and femininity with the existing communal attitudes of the South.
On the other hand, the speaker in Millay’s poem puts across feminine feelings of distress and hopelessness, by being cruel towards her heart. She centers on her feelings and tries to find a solution to her emotional disturbance by evading domesticity when she says, “house without air, I leave you and lock your door” (Millay 1).
The motivation behind the writing of the two works was different. Kate Chopin’s work was generally about living conditions in the South. She particularly wrote about the Creole society in the north of Louisiana (Chopin 1).
The Creoles were though to be dissimilar to the Anglo-Americans and embraced cultural customs that they inherited from their ancestors who were the French and the Spanish. They took pleasure in entertainment, communal gatherings and gambling hence they used up a great deal of time in these actions.
The Creoles rarely accepted visitors to their communal circles and in case they did, they felt that the visitors should abide by their rules on way of life. On the other hand, In Millay’s poem, the speaker is motivated by the wild swans that flew in the clouds, “I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over” (Millay 1).
She esteems them for their splendor, freedom, and sense of being, but the cause of her passionate reaction to them is that she perceives herself in them. All through the poem, she views what she needs for to have in the swans, though at the end, she views herself as if she is in them by venturing both her perfect self and her real self onto the untamed birds.
In conclusion, the two works have several similarities and differences, in the way of narration, their core themes and their causal motivation. An impartial third person who does not condemn or support characters for their behaviors or their dealings tells the story of Edna Pontellier and her hunt for self discovery in Chopan’s work.
On the other hand, the speaker in Millay’s work uses symbolism to deliver the poem whereby she first illuminates that seeing the swans led her to searching her heart, with the hope of finding a new thing though she just saw what she had seen earlier and thus could not match up to to the splendid sight of the swans in flight.
The core themes of femininity, feelings and liberty in Chopin’s work are seen when Edna’s seeks for freedom, love and self-expression and reconciles her views on motherhood and femininity with the existing communal attitudes of the South, while on the other hand, the speaker in Millay’s poem puts her feelings across by being cruel to her heart.
Finally, the motivation behind the two works was different as Kate Chopin’s work was generally about the Creole society in the north of Louisiana; the Creoles rarely accepted visitors to their communal circles and in case they did, they felt that the visitors should abide by their rules on way of life. In Millay’s poem, the speaker is motivated by the wild swans that flew in the clouds.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening and Selected Short Stories. New York: Pennsylvania State University, 2008.
Millay, Edna St. Vincent. “Wild Swans”. (30 Sep. 2009) Web.
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