Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of Kate Chopin’s 1899 novel of a woman’s inner struggle in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, was — like many people — rather ordinary at first glance but quite charming to the discriminating eye.
The charm of Edna Pontellier’s physique stole insensibly upon you. The lines of her body were long, clean and symmetrical; it was a body which occasionally fell into splendid poses; there was no suggestion of the trim, stereotyped fashion-plate about it. A casual and indiscriminating observer, in passing, might not cast a second glance upon the figure. But with more feeling and discernment he would have recognized the noble beauty of its modelling, and the graceful severity of poise and movement, which made Edna Pontellier different from the crowd.
From The Awakening, by Kate Chopin (published 1899).