by Kate Chopin
By the standards of his day, Leonce Pontellier is the perfect husband. He gives Edna plenty of money, sends her care packages, and indulges her hobbies. Furthermore, he makes a good living and is a popular figure in society. So what’s the problem? Well, to start with, he acts like Edna is his property. Mr. Pontellier certainly treats Edna well, but in the same way that you treat your dog well. You pamper it and give it treats, but at the end of the day, you expect it to behave and turn tricks.
The sex in their marriage also isn’t very inspiring. Edna’s first kiss with Alcee Arobin, a man she doesn’t love, was "the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded."
When Edna starts claiming greater independence, Leonce is confused. He adhered to the Perfect Husband mold, and expects a Perfect Wife in return: a woman who takes care of the house, dotes on her children, and keeps up with the social demands that he deems necessary. Bewildered by Edna’s refusal to conform, he becomes convinced that there is something physically wrong with her. In all of these ways, Leonce is illustrative of a man of his time, allowing us to focus on the evolution of Edna’s character.