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Mademoiselle Reisz is an unconventional and somewhat unpopular older woman but also an excellent pianist. She is unmarried, childless, and homely, devoting all her time to her music. Even her living style reveals her character; an apartment above everyone else, with a view, but often disagreeable and cold. Mademoiselle Reisz serves as a muse for Edna representing independence and freedom, and she is thus also a foil for Adele who represents everything an acceptable woman would have been in the nineteenth century. Even though neither Edna nor Mademoiselle Reisz can really claim to have been very fond of each other, Edna seeks her companionship as she begins to pursue her independence and is attracted to Mademoiselle because of her blunt manner. Mademoiselle Reisz is the only character who knows of Edna’s feelings for Robert and therefore serves as an important link between the two characters. Mademoiselle Reisz also realizes that Edna is the only guest who seems really touched by her music, made obvious in a passage in which Edna first hears her play “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... she saw no pictures of solitude, of hope, of longing, or of despair” (chap.9 pg. 33). In this light Mademoiselle Reisz serves as a true confidant for Edna and these details bring these two contrasting personalities together.
As Edna becomes increasingly aware of her sexuality and need to be independent she realizes that Mademoiselle Reisz is the epitome of artistry and female independence, one who lives in eccentric isolation. Mademoiselle Reisz tells Edna that she must be brave is she wishes to be an artist, that artists must have a courageous and defiant soul, “Courageous, ma foi! The brave soul.
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In yet another way Mademoiselle represents the woman that Edna could have become had she not ended her own life. Had she continued to live independently of Leonce and her children she may have been all the things Mademoiselle Reisz was, self-sufficient and ruled only by her passions and love for art, rather than what the society around her expected so mercilessly.