Comparison between Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz In order to help to get a point or idea across it is not uncommon to provide two stark contrasts to assist in conveying the point. Writers commonly use this technique in their writing especially when dealing with a story that concerns the evolution of a character. An example of such writing can be found in Kate Chopin's The Awakening. The novel deals with Edna Pontellier's 'awakening' from the slumber of the stereotypical southern woman, as she discovers her own identity independent of her husband and children.
In order to illustrate the woman that Edna can become in The Awakening, Chopin creates two opposing forces Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz for her best friends that not only contrast each other but also represent different genres of women in Creole society. Adele Ratignolle serves as not only the epitome of the nineteenth-century woman but as Chopin's model of the perfect Creole 'mother-woman'. Adele's gold spun hair, sapphire blue eyes, and crimson lips made her strikingly beautiful even though she was beginning to grow a bit stout. A devoted wife and mother Adele idolizes her children and worships her husband. Her days are spent caring for her children, performing household duties, and ensuring the happiness of her husband.
Even while vacationing at Grand Isle over the summer she thinks about her children and begins work on creation their winter garments. As a matter of fact since her marriage Adele has had a baby every two years. To Adele mothering comes easily and never seems to drain her energy. Adele is comfortable and thoroughly happy with her simple, conformist existence. A foil for Adele Ratignolle, Mademoiselle Reisz serves as a living example of an entirely self-sufficient woman, who is ruled by her art and her passions, rather than by the expectations of society.
A small homely woman, unmarried and childless, Mademoiselle Reisz is a talented pianist and somewhat of a recluse. She represents the anti-mother along independence and freedom. The first time she is introduced in the novel she is introduced as being "eccentric and quarrelsome", from that we are able to infer that she is unlike the other women. Later as the novel continues to progress from her house and manner of expression we are again able to infer that she is unlike the other Creole women.
For her home is an apartment above everyone, with a view, that is disagreeable and often cold. Mademoiselle Reisz is the woman that Edna could have become should she have remained independent of her husband and children and lived to old age. Adele Ratignolle's effect on society is that she merely conforms to the Creole society in which she subsists. Adele has no problem that she has traded in her identity and independence for serenity and security. When it comes to folding laundry, preparing meals, and listening with honest interest to her husband's dinner conversation Adele is truly content. It is in her husband, children and domestic duties that Adele finds pleasure.
Meanwhile Mademoiselle Reisz does not attempt to conform to society and is therefore considered unconventional and unpopular. Mademoiselle Reisz has a habit of saying exactly What she thinks, and is very perceptive and consequently not very sociable. Mademoiselle Reisz does not care that she does not have a husband and children for she finds enjoyment in devoting her life to her passion, music. Her courageous, defiant soul makes her seem difficult and disagreeable to other members of the Creole society. In order to illustrate the woman that Edna can become in The Awakening, Chopin creates two opposing forces Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz for her best friends that not only contrast each other but also represent different genres of women in Creole society. Adele Ratignolle is the embodiment of the perfect nineteenth-century Creole "mother woman" who conforms to society.
Meanwhile Mademoiselle Reisz represents the self-sufficient woman who does not conform to society but lives her life as she chooses. Even though Chopin creates these two models for Edna she still becomes her own distinct individual. This is true for almost all of us. Although we all have many models of people who we can become in the end we often choose none of those models and like Edna become our own distinct individuals.