The Development of Edna Pontellier's Character
Characters win the reader's attention through common grounds of understanding, situation, or personality. Playing the major role, protagonists possess distinguishing characteristics of a complex character. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin develops the protagonist's appearance through direct and dramatic description, her personality through her reactions, and her role through the relationship with the theme.
The first physical description of Edna Pontellier occurs when her husband's comments of her sunburn cause her to look at her "strong, shapely" hands (7). Only after lifting her lawn sleeves above the wrist does she remember the rings that she removed, of which one is her wedding ring. Her "quick and bright" eyes closely match her thick, wavy, yellowish brown hair (9). Gazing intently at an object, she often loses herself in an "inward maze of contemplation" (9). Unlike the "faultless Madonna," Madame Ratignolle, Edna's physique leans towards the gentle beauty of "poise and movement" (27). Intertwining the physical appearance of the twenty-eight year old protagonist with the development of her personality, Chopin further establishes the role of the character.
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 810 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5997 literature essays, 1693 sample college application essays, 237 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in