Essay on The Awakening

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To this present day, women throughout America would be drastically different and would withhold fewer rights if it were not for women in the nineteenth and twentieth century like the characters Madame Ratignolle, Edna Pontellier, and Mademoiselle Reisz in the novel The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. They shaped America into a place where freedom and equality for women is possible. Although the three women were different, they all contributed to different aspects of the feminist movement. Each character represents a distinct type of woman that strongly relates to the progressive stages of the great feminist movement in America.

The female character, Madame Ratignolle, simply represents a "true woman," who is everything that the society
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She saw how Madame was so motherly and domestic, which made her analyze her own personality and past and become someone new. Instead of liking to visit the Ratignolle's, she despised it because of the way Adèle acted in her household. Edna could not stand to see anyone this way, which gave her power to change her life. This led her to her next passionate relationship with a woman: Mademoiselle Reisz.

Mademoiselle Reisz characterizes a "new woman" and a rebellious kind of woman, who contradicts society's demands. She is merely the opposite of Madame Ratignolle, the character that represented a "true woman." Mademoiselle has radical beliefs, like many women did in the feminist movement of America. She did not act according to the social code, but instead, she lived alone with no husband and no children. Her looks were perceived as "unattractive" and "unpleasant" to others (Chopin 106). Edna simply loved the way Mademoiselle could play the piano and she couldn't help but cry every single time because it seemed to have, in a way, elevated her inner soul. Mademoiselle introduced Edna for the first time to a new world of womanhood and influenced her to become an artist. Edna felt that there was no commitment to art like there was to society. She certainly had the talent and drive to become successful selling her portraits and drawings, but her husband consequently belittles her work and discourages her from doing so.

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