characters.jpg

Edna Pontellier- Lindsay

Edna Pontellier is the protagonist of Chopin's The Awakening. Chopin describes Edna in these words, "Mrs. Pontellier's eyes were quick and bright; they were a yellowish brown, about the color of her hair. She had a way of turning them swiftly upon an object and holding them there as if lost in some inward maze of contemplation or thought. Her eyebrows were a shade darker than her hair. They were thick and almost horizontal, emphasizing the depth of her eyes. She was rather handsome than beautiful. Her face was captivating by reason of a certain frankness of expression and a contradictory subtle play of features. Her manner was engaging" (Chopin 4). Edna Pontellier is considered a round character because she is emotionally and mentally developing throughout the course of the novel. Edna begins to find herself unhappy with her marriage and the conservative lifestyle she has been living. She begins to have an attraction to Robert Lebrum; however, she does not take it seriously. Robert showed Edna a type of freedom that she would do anything to acquire. Edna finally cannot take the stresses of living unhappily and kills herself in order to achieve freedom.


Leonce Pontellier- Kelsey

Leonce Pontellier is the husband of Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of the novel. He is an antagonist of sorts because he partly contributes to his wife's feelings of oppression. Although he impacts Edna a great deal, he is not a dynamic character; he stays consistent in his view of Edna as a possession throughout the novel. Also, Mr. Pontellier is a flat character; he is not developed much as a character. We do not learn much about him except that which impacts and concerns Edna Pontellier.

He is described physically as being a forty year old man of an average height and slim build with straight, neat, brown hair. These details, however, mean little. The main significance of Mr. Pontellier's character is his relationship with Edna. For example, Mr. Pontellier looked at his wife "as one looks at valuable piece of personal property" (Chopin 2). Although many of Edna's friends thought him to be the best husband in the world, Edna could not help but feel oppressed. She knew of no better husband and he did not treat her badly considering the typical practices of the time. At that time, it was normal for the man to run the household and expect certain things of a wife. Mr. Pontellier expected her to take care of the children and the household. When she begins to slack on these duties, Mr. Pontellier visits a doctor who is the friend of the family to ask his advice. Dr. Mandelet suggests that Edna's behavior would pass and that Mr. Pontellier would be best to give her some space and time. He does so but continues to worry about how her actions will affect his business. For example, he comes up with an excuse for her moving out because he does not want to risk his business. He is not a bad man or a bad husband. He loves and provides for his family. However, his behavior, which was typical of the period, clashes with Edna's individuality and free spirit.


Robert Lebrun- Chelsea

Robert Lebrun is a young and single man who stays in Grand Isle during the summer. He soon becomes the object of Edna Pontellier's affection. It is known, however, that Robert's passion and dramatic qualities lead him to devote himself to a different woman of Grand Isle each summer. Edna soon realizes that she is in love with Robert. It takes time for Robert to figure out his true feelings for Edna. He then realizes that he is truely in love with her. Then the conflict of love and society arise for Robert. He loves Edna but she is married. Society views women almost like they are a personal item of their husband. Robert is unsure of whether he should break these rules and follow his heart or follow the rules of society. He finally decides that trying to be with Edna would not be a good idea. When he leaves the final time, he leaves Edna a note saying that he's leaving because he loves her.


Alcee Arobin- Chelsea

Alcee Arobin is a charming man with many seductive tactics. He enjoys the challenge of relationships with married women. Edna is left alone while her husband is away in New York and Robert has left for Mexico. During this time, Arobin takes advantage of Edna's situation. He becomes her substitute for affection by fulfilling her physical needs and desires. However, Edna still longs for Robert. During the time she is with Arobin, she never lets him over step her bounderies of power and control. Arobin is merely an outlet for Edna's physical needs and emotions.