Character Relations In The Awakening Essay, Research Paper
It would be easy to say that Edna Pontellier emulates both Madame Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz, however, throughout the novel, it is evident that Edna steps out beyond this assumption and asserts herself as another person altogether. This is obvious in the defining features of each of the women. Madame Ratignolle, for example, is always represented in a very flamboyant nature and is usually associated with clothes, whereas, Mademoiselle Reisz, in contrast, has no relation to clothes or anything of material nature. She instead is associated passionately with music. Edna, on the other hand, has none of these qualities attributed to her. She is not described in terms of clothes. She is never attributed with being flamboyant. She is not musically inclined, with the exception of the fact that the music moves her toward the awakening of her sensuality.
When examining the first stirrings, a certain light [that] was beginning to dawn dimly within her, we see that Edna thinks independently of outside interference. When she was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her she does just that she realizes the world within her, not without her. That is to say, she does this entire awakening on her own. She does not directly receive any outside influence.
Edna Pontellier, as a whole, is a woman completely different from any other in the novel. She stands alone and thinks alone and speaks alone. Her ideas and thoughts are completely hers. It would be wrong to say that Madame Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz are embodiments of two different Ednas. They are not. They contribute their thoughts and ideas to Edna but Edna interprets these thoughts and ideas and either incorporates them or disregards them. In the end, with one fell swoop, she disregards everything ever suggested to her by these two other women. In the final chapter, she takes off all her clothes and walks into the water thereby ridding herself of both Madame Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. She does this in that, as mentioned earlier, Madame Ratignolle is often represented by her clothes, thus, by taking off all her clothes and standing naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her she rejects Madame Ratignolle s self-righteous dedication to her husband and children. Then again, when stepping into the water she rejects Mademoiselle Reisz completely in that Mlle. Reisz s had a natural aversion for water. In fact, it would be safe to say she hated it.
So, all in all, Edna Pontellier presents herself as one singular self with no predilection to one woman or another. It is sad that she could not deal with the awakening of her soul, that she could not be one of the few to emerge from such a beginning [of an awakening]. It is very unfortunate that Edna s soul was one of those souls [that] perish in its tumult.