The Awakening

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Edna Pontellier

The novel’s sad heroine, a twenty-eight-year-old housewife and mother of two whose personality blurs and sharpens from minute to minute. The novel chronicles her transformation from a quiet, not entirely content housewife to a spirited… (read full character analysis)

Robert Lebrun

Edna’s close friend and almost-lover, Robert Lebrun is a wealthy, charming twenty-six-year-old man without any apparent occupation besides befriending pretty married women. After spending most of the summer in each other’s company, Edna and… (read full character analysis)

Mademoiselle Reisz

A rough-edged, plainspoken spinster, a gifted piano player, and Edna’s closest friend. Many people in the novel dislike Mademoiselle Reisz for her harsh manner and impatience for social niceties. Edna, however, becomes deeply attached… (read full character analysis)

Adèle Ratignolle

Edna’s close friend and temperamental opposite, Madame Ratignolle is the model of Victorian womanhood: she is pretty, fragile, warm-hearted, and completely devoted to her husband and children. She seems to find satisfaction in her… (read full character analysis)

Alcée Arobin

A fashionable young man notorious for his relationships with married women. He courts Edna aggressively. His mixture of coyness and sincerity both repels and fascinates her, and they become close friends. Edna is attracted to… (read full character analysis)
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Léonce Pontellier

Edna’s husband, a pragmatic, sociable businessman who takes great care to keep up appearances. He expects his wife to perform her social and motherly obligations in the conventional ways, and he is quick to… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Doctor Mandelet
A wise family doctor, friend of the Pontelliers and the Ratignolles. He seems to understand Edna’s predicament better than any other character.
The Colonel
Edna’s stiff and conservative father, who has a penchant for making elaborate cocktails.
Mrs. Highcamp
An elegant, middle-aged socialite who introduces Edna to Arobin.
Madame Lebrun
Robert and Victor’s widowed mother. She owns the Grand Isle cottages where the other characters vacation.
Victor Lebrun
Robert’s impetuous younger brother.
Etienne and Raoul Pontellier
Edna and Léonce’s two young sons.
Mariequita
A young Spanish girl that has a loose romantic attachment to Victor Lebrun.
The Farival Twins
Fourteen-year-old girls that often play the piano at Grand Isle parties. Their perfunctory music is set against Mademoiselle Reisz’s passionate performances.
The Lady in Black
A mysterious widow who walks silently up and down the beach counting her prayer beads. In this society, a woman without a husband is doomed to live out the remainder of her days in grim, helpless solitude.
The Lovers
A couple that often walks on the beach in the happy oblivion of young love. The brief, chaste period of courtship that precedes marriage seems to be the only appropriate moment for romantic love, according to the Victorian mores of 19th-century New Orleans.
Madame Antoine
A friend of Robert’s and a native of Grand Isle. She welcomes Edna into her home to rest and recuperate after mass.
Mr. and Mrs. Merriman
A couple that attends Edna’s party. Mrs. Merriman is flirtatious, and Mr. Merriman is dull.
Miss Mayblunt and Mr. Gouvernail
Another couple at Edna’s party; both have vague intellectual pretentions.
Monsieur Ratignolle
The husband of Adèle Ratignolle.
Tonie
The son of Madame Antoine .