Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz, which were two close friends of Edna, greatly contributed to Edna’s transformation. Edna gained her newfound freedom of expression from Adele and her Creole culture. Adele’s outspokenness and willingness to share affection was a shock to Edna, but time at Grand Isle relaxed the “mantle of reserve that had enveloped her” (Chopin, 14). Adele openly discussed topics that society deems private; thus, Edna found herself opening up and speaking her mind.
While at the Grand Isle, Edna meets several contrasting characters who help develop her defiant thoughts eventually leading to her awakening. One of her closest friends, Madame Ratignolle, is described as the ideal mother and wife; she is attentive to her husband and cares for her children above all else. Ironically, Edna feels the opposite way; she would “give up the unessential; [she] would give [her] money, [she] would give [her] life for [her] children; but [she] wouldn’t give [her]self” (40). When she revealed this opinion to Madame Ratignolle “a rather heated argument [followed]; the two women did not appear to understand each other or to be talking the same language” (52). Edna’s attitude toward her children compared to Madame Ratignolle’s is the first of many rebellious
She had already had three children and the forth was on its way. All Adele would think about all day long would be her children. If any of her children were to have hurt themselves, they would come crying to her and she would make them all better. Adele would always be sewing clothes for her children and talking about them. Sometimes she would wonder if she should leave the children behind and go somewhere with Edna.
Moreover, when her children tumbled, she will not pick them up just let them get up on their own. In contrast to Adele, Edna is not contributing herself to her family as well as Adele. Edna tries to fit in as the role to be a good mother, but, she cannot definitely, to be a mother-woman cannot fulfill her eagerness to be a special, independent and egocentric person. In Chapter XVI, Edna said to Adele, she would give her money and her life to children, but never herself. And that is what she is trying to understand and recognize.
Adele has her sewing and Madame Reisz has her piano playing. One day, Edna agrees to go swimming with Robert. This experience awakens something inside her. She realizes swimming in the sea is some kind of escape for her. She can forget about all her responsibilities as a wife and a mother for a little while and just focus on herself.
Edna’s inner identity reaches the breakpoint where it is necessary for her well-being that it is expressed. At this point, nothing else matters besides her intuitions and desires. This brings difficulty to her familiar relationships and friendships due to her rejection of living according to her role as a mother and a wife. Even though this conflict is addressed, it does not make an impact on her decision to remain a bit selfish through this time that she is finding herself. As a way of explaining her state of mind, Edna states that she "would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself.
This novel, The Awakening, is about a woman named Edna Pontellier learns to think of herself as an independent human being. Also, Edna Pontellier refuses to obey against the social norms by leaving her husband Leónce Pontellier and having an affair with Robert Lebrun. Kate Chopin describes societal expectations and the battle of fitting the mold of motherhood in the Awakening by how Edna Pontellier and Adele Ratignolle contribute to their family in different ways. Edna Pontellier’s attitude toward motherhood is that she is not a perfect mother-women. Adele Ratignolle’s attitude toward motherhood is that she is a perfect mother-women.
In The Awakening, Edna represents desire, impulse, and rebellion. While Adele represents the socially accepted woman, she is submissive, obedient, and a homemaker. This drastic contrast facilitates Chopin's emphasis on Edna’s rebellion, and how drastic it was for the time period. “Edna's experience of self-discovery, "tangled" and chaotic and therefore "vague" or hard for her to comprehend, touches upon a core issue, of individual variation and the uncertainty involved in its creation, expression, and consequences.” (Glendening).
And with Leonce and the children’s absence, Edna branches off even further buying her own house and sustaining herself with a small income from her paintings. This allows Edna to gain even more independence from her household, children, and spouse, to the point that she has gone against the female submission rule in societies conventions. On the other hand, Adele is obedient and submissive to her household, husband, and children, rarely leaving the premise of her house. Because of Adele being the “mother-woman”(p.8) and following societies conventions, she is granted very little freedom as she can’t leave her house because of the duties she is expected to complete on a day to day basis. Adele’s obedience and Edna’s defiance contraste each other, effectively highlighting the themes of female submission and female freedom within the
Edna and Adele are friends who are different because of their the way they were brought up. Adele is a wife who always obeys her husband no mater what. Edna is a woman who strays from her husband and does not listen to her husband very often. Chopin uses Adele to emphasize the differences between her and Edna. Since Edna Pontellier is not a
At the beginning of the novel, Edna had appeared to be recognizing the fact that her life revolves around her husband and her children, and that it is her main duty to care for them. It is mainly Mr. Pontellier, her husband, who tries to establish an image of her being a both a perfect partner and wife. He views her as an object that must be suitable for the eyes of society. According to him, his wife is a “valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage” (Chopin 2). He is controlling over her appearance and actions.
Edna even says herself, “I would give up the unessential…my money…my life for my children, but not myself.” For her life, Edna realized that means her marriage and physical life. As far as her marriage, Edna was never truly happy with her marriage with Leonce. Furthermore, Edna states she truly cares for her children, but sometimes her search for herself may conflict with this. This then further discourages readers even more due to the fact that this gives insight to her actions, and somewhat justifies them.
Edna developed a yearning for the pursuit of passion and sensuality, two major qualities that were absent in her marriage and home. She became enchanted with the idea of passionate love. This is shown by her relationship with Robert and with Alcée. These relationships resulted in a sexual awakening in Edna’s life. Mademoiselle Reisz 's piano performances brought an emotional awakening in Edna and fed her need for some drama in her life.
Women during Edna’s time were supposed to be dedicated to their husbands and children, however, Edna yearned for her own independence, and as a result of wanting her own independence Edna knew that she was seen as a terrible person. For instance Edna wanted to “…try to determine what character of a woman I am; for, candidly, I don't know. By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can't convince myself that I am. I must think about it" (27.4).