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What It Means To Be A Woman

1603 words - 7 pages

Women determine their success through a variety of factors, such as their kids, their friends, their career, and their state of living. Many women want to be independent and self-sufficient, while others want to be a homemaker and stay at home with their family. In the novel, The Awakening, the women, who are treated as inferior creatures and as the property of men, focus on their personal and social lives, rather than their professional lives. However, Edna wants to break the societal ideals that determine what a woman does, and she desires to be free to do what she wants, rather than what society wants of her. First, she must break free of her barriers such as the society and her husband. ...view middle of the document...

However, the women did not mind this idea, as they were busy caring for their families as well as the community.
Madame Ratignolle was the ideal woman in the Creole Society. "One of them was the embodiment of the every womanly grace and charm.” This quote shows that the Creole society deemed Madame Ratignolle a perfect woman, as she embraced the role society had given her. Adéle Ratignolle was a “mother-woman” along with the rest of the mothers in the society. She mothers Edna as well as her own children throughout the novel, and always manages to bring her children up during group discussions. “She was always talking about her ‘condition’ Her ‘condition’ was in no way apparent, and now one would have known a thing about it but for her persistence in making it a subject for conversation.” This quote emphasizes how much of her focus is on children, whether they are newborn babies, or little kids. During her visit to Edna’s summer cottage, she brings patterns of baby clothes to sew for both Edna and her, while they discuss other events, even though neither is pregnant, and Edna is content with her children’s wardrobe for the winter. During another visit to Edna’s summer cottage, Madame Ratignolle is mobbed by her children. “Her little ones ran to meet her. Two of them clung about her white skirts, the third she took from its nurse...bore it along in her own fond encircling arms. Though, as everybody well knew, the doctor had forbidden her to lift so much as a pin.” Through this quote, Madame Ratignolle is characterized as a woman who is focused more on her children than herself, as she is willing to risk her health and life for her children. Additionally, she hosts the social events that occur in their house such as the soiree musicales, where she acts as a perfect hostess, and everyone in the community attends. Finally, Madame Ratignolle is submissive to her husband, usually thinking about her children, and she centers her life on her domestic responsibilities, unlike Edna.
While Edna is comfortable in her life as wife to Léonce and mother to Raoul and Etienne, she feels that she is not happy with the life she leads, and she begins to awaken. When she discusses her life with Madame Ratignolle, Edna begins to feel the desires that were subdued when she married Léonce. Her numerous infatuations with the men of her community, such as the cavalry officer who visited her father, an engaged young man who was in love with her neighbor, and a great tragedian she was enamored with as a young woman begin to stir her emotions. Her awakening begins to occur at this point, and she begins to rebel against society's beliefs of what a woman should do with her love life. Many of the other women in the community, such as Madame Ratignolle, worship their husband, while Edna does not. “Her marriage to Léonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as the decrees of Fate.” Although he pleased her, she did...

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