César Birotteau (say-ZAHR bee-rah-TOH), a self-made man who at the peak of his success mistook it for the beginning, and whose downfall resulted from his lack of judgment of the jackals in the business world. A peasant in appearance and manners, of straightforward honesty and perseverance, César Birotteau is a man in love with his own wife, devoted to his lovely daughter, loyal to his good friends, and gentle even to those who despise and misuse him. His noble character is revealed through adversity, and he dies following his exoneration from the debts of his bankruptcy. As a manufacturer of perfume and as a manager of a business, he is canny, even ingenious, but in dealing with the world of finance he is an infant sustained finally by his brave wife and daughter.
Constance Birotteau, his beautiful and devoted wife, who is not only wiser than her husband but more resourceful as well. Endowed with a fine physique and constitution, Mme. Birotteau manages all of the business for the family and even has a presentiment concerning their over-extended credit. As kind and honest as her husband but with more will power and intelligence, she never succumbs to pride of possession or the desire for prestige in social life. She never fails to back her bungling husband, however, and she works and saves toward this end. In spite of attempts on her honor, she is a heroine of dimensions only hinted at in her husband.
Césarine (say-zah-REEN), their beautiful daughter, who combines in her person all the good traits of her parents. Robbed of her dowry by...
(The entire section is 716 words.)