Themes and Characters
Sewell wrote Black Beauty to expose the widespread mistreatment of horses. She depicts horses that receive good care as well as those who are abused. The contrasts in the horses' personalities are sometimes startling. Three forms of cruelty come to light: deliberate cruelty, cruelty in the name of fashion, and cruelty committed in ignorance. On several occasions, innocent bystanders intercede on behalf of an abused horse, illustrating the idea that preventing cruelty to animals is everyone's responsibility. Sewell is particularly appalled at the common practice of using a device called a bearing rein (or checkrein) to prevent the horse from lowering his head.
Black Beauty's main equine companions are Ginger and Merrylegs. Ginger is a high-tempered horse whose training and temperament contrast sharply with Black Beauty's. She is badtempered largely because of the mistreatment she suffered when young, while Black Beauty is good-tempered largely because he enjoyed good treatment when young. And even Ginger, with all her problems, eventually quiets down during her time at Birtwick Hall, because of the calming effect of the humane treatment that she receives there. Merrylegs is a pony who, like Black Beauty, embodies the good results of humane treatment. Other major horse characters include Sir Oliver, whose tail was cut off when he was a colt, and Captain, a former cavalry horse.
The main human characters are Black Beauty's first owner,...
(The entire section is 563 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Black Beauty Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Black Beauty is Lady Anne’s riding horse for a while at Earlshall Park, but she calls him Black Auster.
Dolly is the eight-year-old daughter of Jerry, the cab driver who owned Beauty. Dolly would bring food to her father at the cab stand.
Harry is Jerry the cab driver’s twelve-year-old son. Harry capably helped with the care of the horses.
Jeremiah, called Jerry, was Beauty’s owner for three years. Jerry is a kindly and decent London cab driver. Jerry takes excellent care of his horses and does not believe that either he or they should work seven days a week. He is Sewell’s example of honesty and integrity in the working class and is the character she uses to express a number of moral lessons. Jerry finds reward in a job well done and is always willing to perform acts of charity. He loves his wife and children dearly and does not linger in taverns as the other drivers do, since he has been a teetotaler for ten years. When Jerry becomes so ill that he can no longer work as a cab driver, he sells Beauty to a friend he thinks will treat Beauty well.
Polly is the wife of Jerry Barker. Polly is a merry, kindly woman who provides loving care to all around her. Her former employer thinks so highly of Polly that she keeps in...
(The entire section is 1993 words.)