Since ancient times the dove has been used to identify and represent the divine. In the Bible, the dove represents the divine, encompassing the entities of heaven, the holy spirit, and god. In the story of Jesus’ baptism, it has been told that the spirit descending upon him resembles a dove, or descended like a dove. This can be seen in Luke 3:22, as the text describes, “The Holy Spirit descended on Him in a bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Baptisms represent an entrance to a new pure world in the Christian faith, so by a dove being present during such a ceremony, it demonstrates how the arrival of a dove symbolizes the entity of the divine. This concept is present in The Awakening, when Edna chooses to let the sea overcome her, and take her life. The bird is soaring above her, as she is peacefully becoming one with the sea. The line illustrates, “A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water” (Chapter XXXIX). In this moment, Edna is in water, symbolic of a baptism, and it suggests additionally going to heaven. The bird flying above represents the entity of heaven and the divine being present, and the fact the bird is injured shows how life weathers a person as they grow older.
Other Literature with Bird Motif: The White Heron, Trifles, and the Great Gatsby
- Owls are symbols of wisdom and great sight, and some people see owls as an omen of death. In the Great Gatsby “owl eyes” is a man that appears in the novel, and the theme of owls is scattered throughout the book. Owl eyes appears at Gatsby’s funeral, adding to the idea that birds represent heaven and the divine in afterlife. By the owl being present at a ceremony of death, it represents the presence of heaven and the divine.
I really appreciate that you talked about how symbolic the bird scene was in “The Awakening” in multiple different ways and described that the bird being injured reflects back to her own life. It made me think back to the class when we discussed how important this scene was to the overall result of the novel. Do you think that the owl could also be a symbol for wisdom rather than just death and the divine in “The Great Gatsby?” I think that to polish your ideas about relating “The Awakening” to the Bible you could focus more on what you said in the second sentence about all the different things that the bird symbolizes in the Bible and show how the entities of heaven, the holy spirit, and God are all present in “The Awakening” during the scene you chose.