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Female Characters Effect on Edna- The Awakening

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Dylan Crotteau

on 15 April 2015

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Transcript of Female Characters Effect on Edna- The Awakening

Female Characters
The Awakening
Edna distances herself from the trap her marriage has become. She experiences new emotional and sexual freedom, which helps her to find true happiness. Ulitmately, her affair with Robert Lebrun and friendship with Adèle Ratignolle do not satisfy her and lead to her demise at the conclusion of the novel.
Mademoiselle Reisz
Madame Lebrun
The Lady in Black
Adèle Ratignolle
The purpose of Mademoiselle Reisz is to show Edna how her life could be if she were to leave her husband and children,showing both the pros and the cons of a woman without a family. She is the human embodiment of Edna's freedom.
The purpose of Adèle is to show Edna the ideal woman that she is supposed to imitate, all the while maintaing her femininity.
The Lady in Black represents the typical Creole woman
If Edna had never had an awakening, she could have one day ended up like this woman.
In the novel, Edna begins to notice how Adèle embodes everything that she is not and does not do because Adèle is, "...the embodiment of every womanly grace and charm. ”(14) Adèle makes her womanly role appealing yet Edna still feels as if Adèle is trapped in this womanly role. Then, Mme. Ratignolle urges Edna to "...think of the children...", (172) and these words replay through her head; even in her death.

Adèle's words cause Edna an internal
struggle, because she knows she should
be like Adèle yet she does not want to be
defined by her role as a wife and a
mother. Kathleen Streeter even describes
Adèle as a perfect mother (413) dressed
as a queen with her children flanking her.
Although Edna feels that Adèle's role is
unfufilling, Adèle presents the traditional motherly role as something admirable for a woman.
One writer describes, Adèle as someone who is perfect even with her noticeable "flaws", such as her plump appearance the writer states. However, this "flaw" does not take away from her beauty "Adèle is comfortable and thoroughly happy with her simple, conformist existence."
Adèle embodies a classic nineteenth century woman who has control of her home and family. Although most readers will not agree that she is in control of her own life, the way she is described as being worshiped is evidence that she is held to a high regard in her household. Even in the way that she carries herself, Edna sees Adèle as royalty, “She stood watching the fair woman walk down the long line of galleries with the grace and majesty which queens are sometimes supposed to possess” (21)

Symbol of religion
Several passages suggest that Edna is rebelling from her religious upbringing.
The purpose of the lady in black is to represent the conventional Victorian ideal of the widowed woman. She does not embark on a life of independence after fulfilling her duties as a wife; instead, she devotes herself to the memory of her husband and, through religion, to his departed soul.
The lady in black, with her Sunday prayer-book, velvet and gold-clasped, and her Sunday silver beads, was following them at no great distance. (ch.12)
The purpose of Madame Lebrun is to show how the point of view of a widow and how she copes with her husbands death.

Madame Lebrun is a hard worker who is content with her life.
Mademoiselle Reisz can spend her time freely playing her violin and Edna admires her music even calling her better than Chopin.(17) from Edna's constant admiration of Mme. Reisz becomes a mentor that Edna looks to for advice and becomes a confidant. Studymode shows that unlike Edna, "Mme. Reisz is self-sufficient who is ruled by her art...rather than by the expectations of society." She embodies the freedom that Edna hopes to achieve.
Soon, Edna becomes dependent on
Mademoiselle Reisz and once leaving her
home, she get guidance from the musician.
She shares Edna's annoyance for crying
babies and is also self-assertive. (43) and Mme. Reisz also helps Edna step out on her freedom by sharing the letters that Robert wrote for Edna. If Edna had not seen the letters then she would not have tried to have a relationship with him.

Kathleen Streater also acknowledges how "...Reisz offers Edna a feminist escape from patriarchal roles..." Edna is offered a form of escape that opens her eyes to a different world that she has not been permitted to experience.
Mademoiselle Reisz's role in the novel illustrates the cost of a woman's freedom in the nineteenth century. In the novel on page 90, Reisz is described as “the most disagreeable and unpopular woman who ever lived in Bienville Street.” This is the disadvantage of being a single woman. Although Edna has admired Mme. Reisz in the whole story, she learns that being single has its disadvantages.

Madame Lebrun operates a pension (place of lodging) on Grand Isle. She is a widow, and she doesn't seem in a rush to get married anytime soon because her husband died early in their marriage.
"the house" had been a summer luxury of the Lebruns. ... it enabled Madame Lebrun to maintain the easy and comfortable existence which appeared to be her birthright. (Ch.3)
Madame Lebrun was busily engaged at the sewing-machine. A little black girl sat on the floor, and with her hands worked the treadle of the machine. The Creole woman does not take any chances which may be avoided of imperiling her health. (Ch.8)

-Trace the continuum of
female characters
The Awakening
-How do certain female characters restrain or facilitate
Edna's Decisions
-What does the way they function in the novel's plot teach you about
women's roles
in the
nineteenth-century New Orleans

"There was nothing subtle or hidden about her charms; her beauty was all there, flaming and apparent: the spun-gold hair that comb nor confining pin could restrain; the blue eyes that were like nothing but sapphires; ... Never were hands more exquisite than hers, and it was a joy to look at them when she threaded her needle or adjusted her gold thimble to her taper middle finger as she sewed away on the little night-drawers or fashioned a bodice or a bib" Chopin 7.
“A feeling of oppression and drowsiness overcame Edna during the service.” "I couldn't have stayed through the service.” "It was folly to have thought of going in the first place."
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