Madame Ratignolle

Madame Ratignolle
Jenny, Hugh, Nick
Chapter IV
"There are no words to describe her save the
old ones that have served so often to picture
the bygone heroine of romance and the fair
lady of our dreams. There was nothing subtle
or hidden about her charms; her beauty was
all there."
"Madame Ratignolle was very fond of Mrs.
"Madame Ratignolle had been married seven
years. About every two years she had a baby.
At that time she had three babies and was
beginning to think of a forth one. She was
always talking about her 'condition.'"
She is comfortable with her role as a mother,
and takes pride in it by bringing up her
pregnancy as much as possible.
Foil to Edna, who is not "not a motherwoman."
Chapter VIII
Madame Ratignolle asks Robert to leave
Edna alone. She explains her reason for
asking this by saying "she is not one of us;
she is not like us. She might make the
unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously."
The underlying implication of this statement
shows that Madame Ratignolle has high
moral standards and is attempting to protect
Edna from an affair. She also recognizes
that Edna is an outsider to Creole gentility.
Chapter IX
"She was keeping up her music on account of
the children, she said; because she and her
husband both considered it a means of
brightening the home and making it
She is somewhat shallow: her motivation for
music is to appear socially entertaining.
Chapter XVIII
The Ratignolles are described as having a
good standing within the community.
Madame Ratignolle is frequently described
as beautiful and upscale. Their dinner
parties are widely known and grand, with
music and performances.
They lead ideal lives and are comfortable in
their lifestyle.
"The Ratignolles understood each other perfectly. If
ever the fusion of two human beings into one has been
accomplished on this sphere it was surely in their
"Edna felt depressed rather than soothed after leaving
them. The little glimpse of domestic harmony which had
been offered her, gave her no regret, no longing. It was
not a condition of life which fitted her."
The domestic harmony the Ratignolles have contrasts
with the tension the Pontelliers have in their marriage.
Madame Ratignolle is shown to be complacent with her
situation. Edna realizes that she does not desire this
kind of life and takes pity on her friend.
Chapter XXXIII
In this chapter Madame Ratignolle confronts
Edna about her relations with Alcee Arobin
" Well, the reason - you know how evil-minded the
world is - some one was talking of Alcee Arobin visiting
you. Of course, it wouldn't matter if Mr. Arobin had not
such a dreadful reputation. Monsieur Ratignolle was
telling me that his attentions alone are considered
enough to ruin a woman's name".
- Madame Ratignolle is sort of warning Edna here.
She is saying that other people may see the relationship
as an affair, although nobody really knows yet.
"In some way you seem like a child Edna.
You seem to act without a certain amount of
reflection which is necessary in this life."
By saying this to Edna, Madame Ratignolle
is stating to Edna her harsh but earnest
belief. She hopes that after hearing these
words from a close friend, that Edna may
start to act with the necessary reflection.
"Beyond agonizing moments, [Madame Ratignolle]
chatted a little, and said it took her mind off her
"[Edna] recalled faintly an ecstasy of pain, the heavy
odor of chloroform, a stupor which had deadened
sensation, and an awakening to find a little new life to
which she has given being."
Madame Ratignolle blindly accepts her role in the
domestic sphere and is willing to suffer for it. Edna does
not, as illustrated by her being drugged while giving
birth. She feels uncomfortable watching the ordeal and
wants to go against what is natural.
"Think of the children Edna. Oh, think of the
children! Remember them!"
She attempts to remind Edna of her
responsibilities as a mother. While she is
Edna's friend, she also tries to act as a
mentor and to enforce proper behavior.
What Would She Have
Initially, she would have been shocked and saddened,
since she was somewhat close to Edna.
She would also be curious because of mysterious
circumstances. Even though Madame Ratignolle clearly
cared for Edna, she does not understand her.
Because she spent so much time advising and speaking
with Edna about her feelings and her increasing
freedom , Madame Ratignolle would likely have been
skeptical of her drowning.