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The Awakening Characters and Analysis

Characters

Edna Pontellier

The young wife and mother who loses herself to the pressures of societal conventions. Edna is treated as a mere object by her husband and expected to sacrifice herself for the sake of her children. She decides to rebel against the conventions that bind her and begins her path to self-discovery.

However, the patriarchal society is too strong for Edna to defy as she realizes that her only route to freedom is escape through suicide. In essence, Edna represents the many oppressed women who fight back against society.

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Léonce  Pontellier

Edna’s husband is the breadwinner of the family and is constantly working. He treats everything in his life as just another business deal. He is upset to see his wife sunburnt as if she were damaged commodity and constantly makes up for his attitude or for that of his wife with an abundance of gifts and money. At the end it seems Léonce  is only concerned with the image and pretense of a happy family and a successful marriage.

Adèle Ratignolle

Is the complete opposite of Edna. She is the conventional Victorian woman who tends to her husband’s every need and would sacrifice herself for the sake of her children. She represents the stereotypical gender roles at the time that suggest a woman’s femininity lies in her duties as a mother and a wife.

Adèle’s every move is motivated by her wifely and motherly duties. She sews and plays music only for the sake of her children. In essence, Adèle seems to have lost track of her own individual self while playing the role of a wife and mother.

Robert Lebrun

Robert is characterized as the attentive ladies’ man. He is known to have had many affairs and often with married women. His feelings for Edna are unlike anything he had felt in the past.

However, Robert will not join Edna in her rebellion against social conventions. Instead he urges her to marry him, to which she refuses. Robert leaves Edna a letter which says “Goodbye, because I love you”. It could be that Robert was trying to save Edna’s reputation, or he was too cowardly to defy societal conventions himself.

Alcée Arobin

A notorious playboy and who helps Edna on her path to a sexual and sensual awakening. Alcée seems to hold all the physical attributes of an attractive man, but offers Edna little else.

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