"The Doctor was a semi-retired physician, resting, as the saying is, upon his laurels. He bore a reputation for wisdom rather than skill.. .and was much sought for in matters of consultation."(64-65) Although this description defines the role of the Doctor throughout the novel, it does not do him justice regarding the depths of his intuitive abilities. Doctor Mandelet was a healer indeed-not of the body but of the mind. In spite of being a male, he does not fit into the stereotype, and seems to understand, though not fully, the identity conflicts tormenting Edna Pontellier. In the beginning he is portrayed as the common man with hardly any comprehension of a woman's emotions. By the end, he realizes that the society in which they live is
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Pontellier's life. During the conversation, however, he seems to keep the front of being a stereotypical male in the company of Mr. Pontellier and talks of the whimsical moods and idiosyncrasies of the female species with a hint of condescension. He candidly declares his lack of understanding of women, yet he is more knowledgeable than he admits or realizes.
In dining with the Pontelliers, Doctor Mandelet sees no trace of an abnormal condition in the mannerisms and countenance of his lovely hostess, Mrs. Pontellier. In fact, he notes in her a transformation for the better: "Her speech was warm and energetic. There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun." (70) In this scene, the Doctor begins to see Edna's awakening; her realization of the powers of individuality. He still does not completely comprehend Edna's determination in breaking free from her set role as an obedient wife and mother. Doctor Mandelet tells the story ". . .of the waning of a woman's love, seeking strange new channels, only to return to its legitimate source after days of fierce unrest." (70) Edna, however, has her own story to tell; one which Mandelet will never fully discover.
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