Study Guide

The Confidence Man

by Herman Melville

The Confidence Man Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

The Confidence Man

The Confidence Man, masquerading, in turn, as a deaf-mute beggar; as a crippled beggar named Black Guinea; as John Ringman; as a solicitor of funds for the Seminole Widow and Orphan Society; as Mr. Truman, president of the Black Rapids Coal Company; as an herb doctor; as a representative of the Philosophical Intelligence Office; and as Francis Goodman, world traveler. By means of his glib tongue and show of sympathetic camaraderie, he succeeds in duping the passengers on board theFidele even as a placard offering a reward for the impostor is posted on the steamship’s deck.

Mr. Roberts

Mr. Roberts, a kindly, gullible merchant swindled by the confidence man.

An Episcopal Clergyman

An Episcopal Clergyman, an officious demander of references who is blandly gulled out of alms for “Black Guinea” as well as a contribution to the Seminole Widow and Orphan Society.

Pitch

Pitch, a misanthropic frontiersman inspired by the confidence man’s glib tongue to hire a boy through the impostor’s “employment agency.”

Charles Noble

Charles Noble, a garrulous passenger who succeeds in evading the confidence man’s appeals for a loan.

Mark Winsome

Mark Winsome, a mystic philosopher who accuses Charles Noble of being the confidence man.

Egbert

Egbert, a disciple of Mark Winsome. He disgusts the confidence man by relating a long story concerning the folly of making loans between friends.