Many of the characters in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening develop in strange ways. Edna, for instance, can’t find an inner peace and is unsatisfied with her life even though she is wealthy. The two lovers and the lady in black are characters that are not fully developed like others in the story, but their symbolic presence plays a big role in the meaning of the novel.
In chapter one, the lady in black makes her first appearance. She is praying which makes her seem like she is religious. This symbolizes Edna’s attempts to break free from the chains and bonds of religion. She wants to rise up against her previous religious lifestyle and live her life without the rules and regulations. The lady in black represents a figure of death. I believe that her black attire and evil presence while following the two lovers is the embodiment of death and casualty. Also, the lady in black could represent the future. The two lovers are having the time of their lives right now, but eventually old age, illness, and possibly separation will come eventually. The lady in black is like a bad omen that will eventually end their love and happiness and cause them sorrow in pain. The lady in black signifies Robert and Edna’s love that can never exist. Although they want to be together, their relationship was unholy and morally wrong. The lady in black follows close behind because Robert and Edna will never be able to forget or disown their forbidden love.
The two lovers are very happy and joyous but are followed by the evil lady in black. They are infatuated with each other but not necessarily in love. This represents Edna and her husband’s relationship. At first, they were constantly hopeful and eager for their future together. The characters are not developed because the author is showing how first stage of love. Robert is asked if the couple is married and he replies, “Of course not”. This shows that Edna and her husband were married but their relationship was like that of the two new lovers, fleeting and not genuine. The two lovers symbolize life and the happiness of present day. They are vivacious and bubbly unlike the contradictory lady in black. The two lovers signify what is happening now and not worrying about what the future holds. The two lovers and the lady in black are like the parts of Edna’s life that have already flown by. She’s already fallen head over heels for someone, and she has already been crushed by the strictness of a religious upbringing. The lady in black seems to be the strong independent woman, while the two lovers are still clinging on to each other for support.
Symbolism is something that is completely open to interpretation and different opinions. There isn’t necessarily a wrong answer to symbolism because everyone has their own views. The lady in black and two lovers are obviously representations of death and life, but if the reader digs deeper, he/she can find all new meanings. The story is based around Edna, and all of the characters seem to be based or revolved around her. The lady in black and the two lovers are like shadows that stress important themes that are recurring in the novel. Edna veered away from the cheerfulness of the two lovers and began moving towards the lady in black as she commits suicide to break free from her connection to life.