Character analysis on Mademoiselle Reisz from Kate Chopin's "The Awakening"

Essay by benoUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2003

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Although Mademoiselle Reisz seems to be relatively insignificant in The Awakening, she has a profound influence on Edna. Mademoiselle Reisz is one of the only characters in the novel who can understand Edna's true character. Reisz inspires Edna to have a courageous soul that dares and defies (63). Mademoiselle Reisz influences Edna by acting like a sanctuary for her. When Edna feels bored, it would be in such a mood that she would hunt up Mademoiselle Reisz (58). When Edna returns to the city, she is compelled to visit Mademoiselle Reisz. When she visits Mademoiselle Reisz, her boredom is lifted away by Reisz's music and Robert's letters to Reisz. Edna loses herself when Mademoiselle Reisz plays music (64). Mademoiselle Reisz makes Edna feel happy by allowing her to read letters from Robert. Edna's eyes fill with delight when Mademoiselle Reisz shows Edna the letters (80). Seeing how happy Mademoiselle Reisz is as a non-married artist inspires Edna to be more independent and to pursue her desire to paint.

This relates back to the meaning of the novel -- a woman's struggle for individuality while still being married. By spending time with Mademoiselle Reisz, Edna realizes that in order to be a separate self she cannot have the burdens of marriage and children (18). Mademoiselle Reisz also motivates Edna's endeavors. Mademoiselle Reisz encourages Edna to be her own individual. One way in which she does this is by defining the requirements for a genuine artist, to be an artist includes much; one must possess the courageous soul, she says (63). Since Edna wishes to become a genuine artist, these words melt into her soul (63). When Reisz says this to Edna, she is not just informing her that an artist is one who paints, but she is also...