Léonce Pontellier, Edna’s husband, represents a very traditional depiction of Victorian masculinity throughout the course of the novel. He views the world through a distinctly patriarchal lens, and this perspective shapes the way in which he treats Edna both before and after her various “awakenings.” In Chapter 3, Mr. Pontellier describes his wife as “the sole object of his existence,” yet he frequently abandons her to socialize with other club men at Klein’s hotel. The operative word in this description is “object,” a term which dehumanizes Edna and gives Mr. Pontellier complete ownership and control of her. To him, she carries the same value as the possessions, or “household gods,” displayed throughout their home. Although Mr. Pontellier does little to support Edna’s social and emotional needs, he expects her to care for their children and manage their household all alone. In this worldview, the wife’s needs are at the very bottom of the hierarchy while the husband’s needs are at the top. When Edna begins gaining awareness of this inequitable dynamic and rebelling, Mr. Pontellier feels threatened and lashes out.
As Mr. Pontellier grows more and more disturbed by the changes in Edna’s behavior, he seeks out the advice of Doctor Mandelet. He attempts to take a more hands-off approach in responding to Edna’s rebellions per Doctor Mandelet’s suggestion, but even this shift in his actions, which coincides with his extended trip to New York, fails to soften his rigid point of view. He reprimands her choice to move into the pigeon house via a strongly-worded letter and disguises her behavior by having their house on Esplanade Street remodeled, concerned first and foremost with maintaining his financial reputation. Despite the oppression Edna feels in her marriage, many other women throughout the novel hold Mr. Pontellier in the highest regards. This tension between Edna’s perspective and that of the other women around her speaks to just how pervasive his patriarchal worldview is in their time. What Mr. Pontellier represents is not an extreme but rather the norm.