Madame Ratignolle Character Analysis

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In The Awakening, Chopin uses other characters to display Edna Pontellier’s desires and social limitations to shape her new outlook on life. Mademoiselle Reisz and Madame Ratignolle play different roles in Edna’s development throughout the novel by influencing her to become a new woman in society. Mademoiselle Reisz is the most influential character toward Edna because she represents freedom and independence. She lives an unmarried, childless life dedicated to music such as the piano. Through music she is in touch with her emotions and does not fear judgment from society. Because she is not very sociable, she is amazed at the connection with Edna through music. Mademoiselle Reisz’s awareness of Edna’s passion to pursue art makes Mademoiselle…show more content…
Adele is “the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm” who “idolizes their children, their husbands” (9). Together Edna and Madame Ratignolle discuss womanly duties of sewing and childbirth. Through their friendship, Edna confides her dual life that conforms and questions in Madame Ratignolle. Madame Ratignolle conformist lifestyle motivates Edna to become her own person away from the Victorian feminine ideal. Adele’s beliefs that a woman should devote her life to service leads her to advice Edna to “think of the children [and] remember them” (104). Edna selfishly believes that her children are well without her and decides to depart from her societal duties and to seek freedom and independence. Adele unpurposely influences Edna to abandon her life in hope of rebirth. Mademoiselle Reisz and Madame Ratignolle both influence Edna to become a redefined woman. Before Edna’s awakening, Edna believed that her life would never be fulfilled through her marriage to Leonce because of her lack of free will. The discovery of her own identity leads to Edna’s rebellion and heroic decision to take her own life in act toward freedom from controlling powers. Her passions, desires, strength, and courage to defy societal expectations demonstrates her desire to be reborn into a life of passion and
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