When thinking about Kate Chopin s novel, The Awakening, one must recognize the impact the other characters had on Edna. The two characters that seemed to have the biggest impact were Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. Although these two women are very different, both influenced Edna s decisions about her life greatly. The ideas both presented Edna with contributed to her decision to take her life. Adele was the ideal Creole wife and mother. She shared a successful drug store business with her husband.
The pair had a wonderful relationship, with each other as well as with their children. Adele was perfectly happy attending to her family s needs and wishes. She tried to get Edna to see how happy this kind of life could be, and to live this life rather than fight it. Edna does not want the Creole married life, and knows it cannot make her happy. She is not completely devoted to the happiness of her family, and refuses to give her soul for her children. She cannot understand why this makes Adele happy.
However, when Edna s children are at Iberville, she goes to see them and realizes she missed them. She loves her children very much; she just did not want them in her life all the time. This is one of Edna s awakenings, realizing that she does not want a family. She wants to be free of Leonce s authority and does not want to be though of as a possession. Adele s impact on Edna is shown by the fact that before she died, she was thinking of her children, and how much she loved them.
She felt that to really be their mother, she must be willing, like Adele, to give up her soul for them. Since she wasn t, she felt that she couldn t be their mother. Her children were not the only things on her mind that day. Opposite of Adele is Reisz, who is encouraging Edna s independence. Reisz is an older woman, who has never subjected herself to the routines of traditional Creole marriage. She is an artist, by occupation, attitude and temperament.
Reisz is the one who looks into Edna and shows her what kind of woman that she can be. She encourages Edna s artistry and rebellion. Reisz has a much larger influence in Edna s life than Adele. With her encouragement, Edna was able to let go of such customs that smothered her such as the Tuesday visits. Leonce s anger toward Edna s refusal to comply with that and other rituals only fueled her desire to be rid of the life she resented.
Reisz also gave Edna the support she needed to realize her potential artistry. Edna s awakening gave her new insights on her sketches and paintings. Edna spent more and more time at Reisz s listening to her play on the piano and reading letters from Robert. Reisz made Edna aware of her strength as a woman, which was the push she needed to move out on her own and be the woman she wanted to be. The two women did not give Edna the idea to end her life; that was the only way Edna felt she could really be free. She knew that once Leonce returned, he would still tell her what to do.
She also knew that she could not leave her boys in Iberville forever. Edna could never have the true freedom she desired with her children and husband around. She also knew that Robert wanted her to be the traditional Creole wife, such as Leonce wanted. Edna realized this by herself, but she knew that she could not live that way, no matter how much she loved the man. Due to the talks with Reisz, Edna could see this on her own.
Edna s decision to kill herself was one she came up with by herself. Although both Adele and Reisz influenced the choices Edna made, Reisz had a bigger impact on Edna s life. Adele showed Edna the life she didn t want. Reisz showed Edna that she had the strength to renounce this lifestyle and create on that made her happy. Reisz s support and encouragement of Edna s artistic ability and aspirations gave her happiness she would not have found otherwise.
The impact of Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz on Edna s awakening is significant, although the two women are different and influenced Edna differently. 388.