Bathers at Etretat and The Awakening

This painting, Bathers at Etretat, by Henry Bacon is very similar to the novel The Awakening. In The Awakening, Edna makes a personal transformation from being stuck in the idealistic role of being a wife, to being a free and independent woman. This transformation is portrayed through the metaphor of Edna learning to swim. At first, Edna is afraid of the sea due to the fact that she can not swim. This is symbolic to her not liking the role society forces her to play as a woman. In the middle of the novel, however, Edna learns to swim and feels the freedom that it brings, which is symbolic to her breaking away from the refinements of her marriage. In the end, Edna looses her life to the sea, her final act of desperation for freedom. The painting, Bathers at Etretat, deals with this idea of Edna’s transformation because the two women in the painting represent Edna different stages throughout the book. The one in the boat represents Edna at the beginning of the book, afraid to go into the water, but testing it to see if there is something appealing. The woman in the water, however, is Edna at the end of the novel, accepting the freedom of swimming.

This painting also deals with juxtaposition. This relates to the painting because, in having two women of different natures side by side with each other, they are highlighting the differences between the two.
Bathers at Etretat

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One Response to Bathers at Etretat and The Awakening

  1. bsullivan35 says:

    Good link. Bacon may have been a friend of our own, Willis Seaver Adams.

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