Susan Camille

Date of Award


Document Type

Access Controlled Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Denise Knight, Ph.D.


Kate Chopin‟s The Awakening (1899) is infused with color. As one moves through her narrative of Edna Pontellier‟s awakening from the repression of social convention to an increased consciousness centered on her femininity, and her eventual suicide, one encounters numerous word portraits painted with images of color. Like a painter filling a canvas, Chopin has filled the novel with rich, sensuous imagery. These colorful representations of the feminine display meanings deeper than the colors with which they are portrayed. Analyzing the narrative using archetypal criticism to examine mythological portraits and color imagery can lead one to a greater understanding of Chopin‟s representation of womanhood. The color imagery is the key to Chopin‟s portraits of femininity. Just as paint is the painter‟s tool to color her work, Chopin uses color-filled language as her tool for creating a richly painted narrative. The symbolic meanings of the color invoke images of various facets of femininity. Chopin uses the copious color imagery to explore these various images, showing Edna‟s journey through life seeking an image to represent her own psyche. And as the reader journeys through the narrative, she is invited to examine the images that Chopin presents like an artist displaying portraits in an art gallery, like an artist painting with colors rather than words.