The Awakening Essay

The Awakening Essay

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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 in the novel expects her to be and blindly follows the social duties of women. She is the perfect housewife and the perfect mother, who does everything that her husband expects her to do. In fact, Madame would give up anything, including her own life, for her children. It was women like Madame Ratignolle that encouraged other women like Edna Pontellier to "awaken" and change their role in society. Edna had never had previous relationships with other females until she met Adèle. Chopin describes Edna's first attraction to Madame "physical" and "passionate." Edna felt that she could express her emotions so easily to Madame, and even reveal some of her deepest and darkest secrets. It gave Edna a feeling that she had never felt before. Her own husband, Léoncé, failed to give her this passionate and comforting feeling. In an era when men were the household rulers, women often turned to each other for comfort. This was exactly what Edna had felt when she became friends with Mada...


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...y to accept at first. Despite this lack of acceptance, women used the powerful technique of influence like Mademoiselle did to encourage other traditional women that they were being mistreated in society and that they must act upon it to gain equality. During this final stage of the movement, there was nothing holding these radical women back from achieving their final goals.

All three women in the novel portray a different character analysis that strongly relate to and contribute to the unforgettable feminist movement in America. Adèle Ratignolle, Edna Pontellier, and Mademoiselle Reisz symbolize the different stages of the feminist movement that led to where women stand now. The lives of women would not be as appreciative and enriched as they are today if it were not for women like these three characters that significantly changed and made history.

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