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O’Neal 1Kaitlin O’NealMrs. KreigAP English IV19 November 2017A Close Look at Kate Chopin’s The Awakening: The Unacceptable Compromise A woman, forced to conform, forced to obey, and deprived of her own self-identity, folds the clothes of her husband and children. She is dreaming of a world in which she could have her own identity, a world in which self-expression is not rejected, a world in which dual roles is not disapproved. Kate Chopin’s controversial novel The Awakeningdefines the lines of society that force unwanted roles and expectations on the lives of Victorian women. Through the foiling of two prominent women in the text, Chopin’s character Edna Pontellier exemplifies the necessity of compromise to live a life of contentment. Madame Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz serve as alternate routes of which Edna is expected to take to mold her future. This unattainable expectation of unacceptable choices forces Edna to create her own path; a path that is destructive, yet free.In the Victorian time period, women had one basic expectation. They were to be a naturalnurturer who serves her husband and tends to the laundry and children; a wife and mother, nothing more, nothing less. In the novel, Madame Adele Ratignolle serves as a basic representation of this conventional lifestyle. As a mother of abundant children, she devotes her life to motherhood and selfless acts in which she puts her personal desires behind the needs of her loved ones. Chopin uses Adele as an example of what society expected from Edna. In a conversation between the two, a heated argument breaks out when Edna exclaims “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t
O’Neal 2give myself” (Chopin 51). Adele doesn’t understand this, because to her, her children make her who she is. Not only does she give herself, but she searches for what else she can contribute to their needs and desires. As a perfect representation of society’s model woman, Adele Ratignolle never strays from the motherly path engraved into the lives of Victorian women and is consequently well respected by all who know her.