Madame Ratignole Character Analysis

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Who is Edna? The world can be polarizing, society creates boxes, and sometimes it is hard to make oneself fit into one of them. This is the dilemma that Edna faces in Chopin’s The Awakening. She feels as though she had to be either a perfect Creole mother or a lonely outcast. Madame Ratignole and Mademoiselle Reisz are physical exemplifications of these two options. Madame Ratignole, the perfect mother woman who had a perfect marriage and does everything right, tries to prevent Edna from making the bad choices she makes. Mademoiselle Reisz is a loner artist who is a pariah in the community and constantly pushes Edna to follow her heart and be with Robert. Both Madame Ratignole and Mademoiselle Reisz represent the two sides of Edna’s life…show more content…
Madame Ratignole is always giving Edna counsel and warning her. When Edna moves into her new home alone and becomes close to Arobin, Ratignole “advise[s] [her] to be a little careful while she [is] living there alone” and tells her that Arobin’s “ attentions alone are enough to ruin a woman’s reputation” [96]. Ultimately, Edna ignores her about almost everything. Ratignole has little influence on Edna’s decision making and Edna makes choices that she would never make, both of these facts show their dissimilarity. Edna’s relationship with Mademoiselle Reisz is different. Reisz asks questions and serves as a mirror, showing Edna her innermost feelings, and she doesn’t have to tell Edna what to. Edna seems more influenced by their discussions than the warnings of Ratignole. Ratignole is trying to make her hide who she is, while Reisz doesn’t because she understands her. Before making the important decision of whether or not to cheat on her husband with Arobin she asks him “do you know Mademoiselle Reisz” [83]? This quote shows that Reisz was in her head while she thought about what she would do and ultimately pushed her to follow her heart. Reisz’s independent and unconcerned attitude can be seen in most of the major choices Edna makes like moving into her own house, becoming an…show more content…
As part of Edna’s self-discovery she wants to spend time on her own and she feels forced to leave her kids with her parents. When she visits them, her kids still bring her happiness even if her previous life does not and “it was with a wretch and a pang that Edna left her children” [95]. Edna does fine alone, with her art, forgetting her past, but when she goes to see them, she is confronted with the side of herself that she is giving up and it hurts her. This aching shows that there is still a part of her that is a wife and mother. One part where the Ratignole side of her overcomes Reisz’s is when she goes to Adele’s side at childbirth instead of staying with Robert. While this is a huge action and shows that the family woman inside her is still alive despite Edna’s best efforts to crush that part of herself , she still feels disconnected from the other mothers and “her own like experiences seemed far away, unreal” [110]. While part of her is still a mother a she is also now an outsider, and it bothers her. The never-ending conflict is best seen in Edna’s final thoughts. As she drowns herself, she thinks of both her family and Reisz. She feels that she doesn’t “possess the courageous soul that dares and defies” because she couldn’t choose Robert over her
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