How Does Kate Chopin Use Foils In The Awakening

1012 Words5 Pages

Acceptance, freedom, love, and lust, these conflicts arise in The Awakening by Kate Chopin as Edna Pontellier struggles with her internal conflicts. Chopin uses foils to demonstrate her evolution in the novel. In a time where women are expected to be subordinate, Edna begins to defy the standards and her oppressive husband. Compliance and individualism are exemplified by two polar characters: Adèle Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. These women act as foils and provide references to the reader in understanding Edna’s awakening. Additionally, Robert and Alcee act to demonstrate Edna’s views of relationships, or love and lust respectively. On one hand, Adèle can be seen as subservient, but Reisz represents the feminist movement. Similarly, Robert …show more content…

Madame Ratignolle cares for her family and sacrifices independence for their good. “Her name was Adèle Ratignolle. There are no words to describe her save the old ones that have served so often to picture the bygone heroine of romance and the fair lady of our dreams” (10-11). Madame is revered for her personality and is the ideal woman of the Victorian era. Unlike Adele, Mademoiselle Reisz projects individualism. She is not married, has no kids, and acts upon her own will. She is not respected for her decisions, but free from submissiveness. “She was a disagreeable little woman, no longer young, who had quarreled with almost every one, owing to a temper which was self-assertive and a disposition to trample upon the rights of others” (33). Chopin’s inclusion of feminism is important in developing the themes of individuality and the defiance of oppressive social standards. These women and their lifestyles represent two opposing views in a time where purity is a pertinent …show more content…

This can be demonstrated by a pair of foils whom she develops with. Edna loves Robert, lusts over Alcee, and ultimately desires to desert her husband. This idea further exemplifies Edna’s newfound social power as she defies from her husband to have affairs with other men. Although her desire for relationship with Robert is based on love, her lust for Alcee produces a theme that comments on the differentiation and power of the two emotions. Edna demonstrates her feelings towards Robert as she states, “‘I love you,’ she whispered, ‘only you; no one but you’” (147). Her plea is contradicted earlier though, when she tells him, “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (146). Although Edna says she loves Robert, the effect of individuality still persists as though she says she still has control over herself. The two men also parallel the other theme of compliance to standards. Edna does want to devote herself to her love, but when he leaves, she continues her awakening. As she develops, her realization of control over men increases and she decides she could be with whomever she pleases. Robert creates further conflict for Edna in that her love for him is consuming, especially since she feels none towards her husband. This problem further develops when she has an affair with Alcee and betrays her true love. These actions are merely

Open Document