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The Awakening: Male Characters
Transcript of The Awakening: Male Characters
Male Influence on Edna Pontellier
Alcee is known for his reputation with married women and becomes Edna's lover while her husband, Leonce, is away on a business trip in New York. Although Edna's true love lies with Robert, Alcee satisfies her physical urges while Robert is in Mexico.
In the Beginning...
Alcee is discussed by Robert to Madame Ratignolle. She asks Robert to take a step back in his relationship with Edna. He responds by gossiping about Alcee's newest love affair.
Edna and Alcee meet for the first time at the races.
Alcee invites her back to the races alone. Afterward, Edna suddenly touches Alcee's hand and he continues to pursue her with a kiss.
This leads Edna to feel guilty and unfaithful, not to Leonce, but to Robert.
She asks herself, "What would he think?" (meaning Robert)
Alcee begins to visit Edna every day.
Edna experiences her first moment of marriage infidelity with Alcee.
The kiss is the first one in her life that truly affects her and fills her with desire.
After Alcee leaves, Edna is surrounded by material things around her household provided by her husband that surface guilt. But she mostly feels like she has betrayed Robert because she truly only loves him.
Edna mostly feels like the affair has let her see and interpret the world from a better perspective. Even though she is not ashamed of her relationship with Alcee, she regrets that she slept with someone because of lust, rather than love.
Introduction to Alcee
Introduction to Robert
Every summer, this single twenty-six-year-old man devotes his time to a different woman in Grand Isle. His relationship with Edna Pontellier grows into something deeper and he realizes he has genuinely fallen in love with her. But even the love he has for her cannot change the fact that society will not accept an unfitting relationship, such as theirs.
Introduction to Edna Pontellier
Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of The Awakening, is a twenty-eight year old woman who isn't content with her married life or her life as a mother. The title is in reference to her experiences that "awaken" her spirit and allow herself to become an independent and free woman.
Edna's Relationship to the men of The Awakening
Robert Lebrun: devoted attendant to the women of the island, including Edna
Alcée Arobin: Edna's lover while her husband is away on business. Someone to keep her occupied while Robert is away.
Léonce Pontellier: Edna's husband. Forty year old wealthy businessman.
Doctor Mandelet: Family phicisian who accuses Edna of being in love with another man.
The Colonel: Edna's strict father.
Victor Lebrun: Robert's younger brother.
Robert Lebrun's Infulence
Is the key factor in sparking the start of Edna's awakening. His flirtations allow her to fantasize about how life could be.
Never allows his attraction to surpass the boundaries set by society thus ending Edna's fantasy and "awakening".
The book creates the symbolism that Edna is a bird in a cage waiting to be set free. Robert is the man who lets Edna spread her wings to fly by creating a fantasy life that they can live in, but also cages her by telling her the life they imagined will never be due to society.
Introduction to the Colonel
The Colonel, Edna's father, fought in the Confederate army and is a proud military man. He takes pride in his daughters but remains the dominant male figure in all relationships.
The Colonel's Influence
The Colonel has first of all influenced Edna simply by living in the same household as her. However, the impression we get of him is not a particularly pleasant one. He's a man who enjoys drinking, gambling, and believes women were meant to be secondary to men. He obviously treated his wife poorly, as Mr. Pontellier says: "The Colonel was perhaps unaware that he had coerced his own wife into her grave."
Edna's father stands as an example of how Edna has come to view relationships, especially her own marriage. He acts as though women are lesser beings and meant to serve men, probably due to the treatment from her father while growing up.
While in Mexico...
Edna asks Robert not to forget her when he goes off to Mexico.
He writes letters to his mother and to Mademoiselle Reisz, but not to Edna. He admits that he loves Edna and is trying to forget her.
In the Beginning...
Robert shows genuine affection towards Edna and opens her up to a relationship outside that of her marriage.
Mr. Pontellier invites Robert to the club, but Robert refuses, insisting to stay with Edna.
On a separate occasion, Robert asks Edna if she plans to take an evening swim. She replies no, but he convinces her to swim anyway.
Edna leaves mass early and Robert accompanies her, enjoying the time he spends with her.
Back in the City
This is when Leonce's actions begin to chafe Edna. Leonce expects Edna to act her role, by managing the house, taking care of the children, and meeting whatever social demands he deems necessary.
When Edna begins to act independently, Leonce's first response is the effect it will have on his business
"I tell you what it is, Edna; you can't afford to snub Mrs. Belthrop. Why, Belthrop could buy and sell us ten times over."
Introduction to Leonce
Leonce is an aristocrat, a social figure, and a successful businessman who takes pleasure is owning things. He works hard to fill his house with expensive objects, and he views his wife as one of his priceless possessions. He believes that the husband and wife have specific defined roles, and expects Edna to adhere to her role as he does his.
In the Beginning...
Leonce is the perfect husband according to the standards of the time:
gives Edna a large allowance
sends her care packages and treats
indulges her hobbies
Spends much of his time away from his family
Doctor Mandelet is another southern man who strictly abides by the rules of southern society. He is one of the only people to inform Léonce of the possibilities of his wife loving another man. Although the Doctor makes it seem as though he is helping Edna, he is simply telling her to head his warning that society will bring her down for her disloyal actions.
Introduction to the Doctor
Léonce and Edna's family doctor who recognizes Edna's unconventional illness of dissatisfaction. Léonce seeks help for Edna from the doctor. Doctor Mandelet offers "advice" to Edna to realize the consequences of her actions.
Introduction to Victor
Victor is Robert Lebrun's younger brother who spends his time chasing women and refuses to settle down into a profession.
Much like his brother, he enjoys being around women. But he has not experienced love like Robert in his relationship to Edna.
Parting from Alcee
After spending more time with Alcee, Edna begins to grow more and more distant. They continue to sleep together, but she feels sad and withdrawn.
When Robert returns, Edna and Alcee sleep together one last time before he is pushed out of the picture. Her heart is with Robert and Alcee's physical pleasures are no longer needed.
When Robert returns, he visits Mademoiselle Reisz but only Edna is there. She questions why he did not write her. He walks her home and stays for dinner. Robert notices a sketch of Alcee Arobin on Edna's table and is jealous by this. Alcee then stops by Edna's and Robert leaves shortly thereafter.
After several days of not seeing Edna, Robert runs into her at a restaurant and he walks her home. She asks him many personal questions and then kisses him. Robert then admits what he has been fighting back since summer. He tells Edna of his constant thoughts of her while he was in Mexico and his desire for her to be his wife. She shocks him by saying she doesn't want to belong to anyone.
When Edna is summoned to help with the birth of Adele's baby, Robert begs her to stay with him. She tells him to stay there until she returns.
Robert leaves her with a note that reads: "I love you. Goodbye--because I love you."
The relationship between Leonce and Edna is passionless.
He doesn't put much effort into knowing his wife's true feelings and emotions.
He can't understand Edna's new behavior, so he thinks she must be suffering from some sort of ailment. He then consults Dr. Mandelet to determine what is "wrong" with his wife.
Alcée Arobin's Influence
Alcée is the fuel to the fire that Robert has already created for Edna. Unlike Robert, Alcée doesn't have the moral values that society feels necessary of a southern gentleman. He has no problem pursuing a married woman emotionally and physically. Edna may have forgotten the fantasies Robert created after he left if Alcée wouldn't have come around creating false hope that Edna could be a free and happy woman.
Alcée is the one who guides Edna's flight through her "awakening", but doesn't have the compassion that Robert has towards her to save her from falling.
Léonce Pontellier's Influence
Léonce has two completely opposite influences on Edna's life.
Léonce is the cage that holds Edna to her role as mother and wife. He feels that she should be the epitome of what society expects of her.
Although Léonce portrays the image of the perfect southern gentleman, there is some uncertainty as to his actions while away on business. This uncertainty leaves Edna to wonder about infidelity and gives her reason to be the free woman she always wanted to be.
by: Alexa Guilliot