Essay on the Character of Mademoiselle Reisz in The Awakening

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The Character of Mademoiselle Reisz in The Awakening "The very first chords which Mademoiselle Reisz struck upon the piano sent a keen tremor down Mrs. Pontellier’s spinal column. It was not the first time she had heard an artist at the piano. Perhaps it was the first time she was ready, perhaps the first time her being was tempered to take an impress of the abiding truth." (26) Madam Reisz was a predominant factor in the life of Edna, compelling her to arouse her courage and supplying her with the proper motivation to do so. She was admired by Edna, impelled to be an artist by her. Madam Reisz, in response, also portrayed a considerable amount of gratitude towards Edna and her "awakening": "You are the only one worth playing for. those others, Bah!" (26) Madam Reisz had a profound influence upon the lifestyle of Edna, along with supplying a pillar for moral support. Madam Reisz influenced the existence of Edna by acting as a form of sanctuary for her in which Edna would have to seek her when placed in a state of misfortune, or when being inundated with boredom. "It was during such a mood that Edna hunted up Mademoiselle Reisz." (58) When Edna returns to the city, she is dominated by the premonition to seek Mademoiselle Reisz, yet the purpose is indistinct. By seeking madam’s residence Edna is supplied with two factors of appeasement that are able to suppress her boredom: Robert’s letter’s, and Reisz’s music: ‘The shadows deepened in the little room. The music grew strange and fantastic, turbulent, insistent, plaintive, and soft with entreaty. The shadows grew deeper. The music filled the room. It floated out upon the night over the housetops, the crescent of the river, losing itself in the silence of the uppe... ... middle of paper ... earth." (83) Reisz discerns that Edna is pursuing a path that no other individual has showed the audacity to in the past, and she must remain morally strong in order to avoid a futile conclusion to this journey. The influence of Madam Reisz upon Edna is present throughout their confrontations. The Madam is one of the only characters in the novel that possesses the ability to perceive Edna’s true character, not the superficial image that she shows in public in front of shallow characters such as Madam Ratignolle. Reisz inspried Edna to such an extent in which her influence was recalled before her death. Edna, when transgressing the borderlines of society, swimming without acknowledgment of her physical state, recalls Reisz, stating, "And you call yourself an artist! What pretensions, Madam! The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies." (116)
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