The main conflict and also an internal conflict is that Edna is struggling figuring out who she really is versus what the Victorian era society wants her to be because of their visualization that all women are supposed to just be these stay at home mothers that are only there to take care of the children and do what the men say. The reason it’s an internal conflict is because later on it’s shown that she is struggling with either being independent and happy, but condemned to solitude as a consequence or allow herself to conform society’s will and integrate with society, but live the rest of her life unhappy. In contrast to Edna who wants to be this independent, non- conformist, equal woman of the late nineteenth century Chopin introduced a character named, Mademoiselle Ratingnolle. I believe the reason she portrayed the way she is all throughout the story is to show how Edna could end up if she conforms to society. The reason I’m saying that is because Mademoiselle Ratingnolle is portrayed as this stunningly beautiful woman who is essentially this perfect Victorian era woman who does everything a woman at should do, which is essentially taking careof the children and staying in her place. What’s interesting about her character is that she’s shown being able to speak on even terms with her husband, a privilege that Edna unfortunately doesn’t have. It’s as if Chopin wrote this way to show Edna that she does have a glimmer of hopeto one day she too can be an equal with her husband if she performs her motherly duties and possibly find happiness from this opposed to being independent. At first glance that’s all I thought about until Mademoiselle Ratingnolle was giving child birth in chapter 37. Xueling Wu states “[the] suffering of child birth reminds women of the pains they must take to be a mother” (Wu, 293). I agree with the fact that suffering reminds them of the hardships of being a woman, but I think the suffering symbolizes the suffering Edna will go through if she decided to stay in a relationship with Mr. Pontellier. What I mean is even if she were to attain the type of marriage
Henderson 5that Mademoiselle Ratingnolle had before she died, chances are high that she is going to have to go through a lot more suffering just to get to that point.The other woman that majorly influenced Edna throughout the story is Mademoiselle Reisz. She is also a model for Edna just like Mademoiselle Ratingnolle. It should also be noted, “[she] possesses the independence for that Edna desires” (Wu, 293). I completely agree with this especially since this goes back to my internal conflict that was mentioned earlier since she is shown to be extremely lonely despite having all of this freedom to do what she wants.