The Custom of the Country Characters

Edith Wharton

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Undine Spragg

Undine Spragg (uhn-DEEN sprag), an insatiably ambitious young woman whose beauty gains for her a place in society, four marriages, each more materially profitable than the last, and, finally, a desire for a fifth marriage to which she cannot attain because of her divorces.

Elmer Moffatt

Elmer Moffatt, Undine’s vulgar, outspoken first husband. Forced by Undine’s parents to get a divorce early in his marriage, Moffatt goes to New York, where he becomes a significant financial figure. Later, as one of the richest men in the city, he remarries Undine and becomes her fourth husband.

Ralph Marvell

Ralph Marvell, Undine’s second husband. Disillusioned by his wife’s ruthless desire for money and her insatiable social ambitions, he takes his own life.

Raymond de Chelles

Raymond de Chelles (shehl), a French comte and Undine’s third husband. When he begins to neglect her, she divorces him and remarries the now-wealthy Moffatt.

Jim Driscoll

Jim Driscoll, American ambassador to England and an old society acquaintance of Undine. She aspires to become his wife.

Peter Van Degen

Peter Van Degen, Undine’s lover, who deserts her in Paris when he learns of her callous treatment of Ralph.

Paul Marvell

Paul Marvell, son of Undine and Ralph.

Laura Fairford

Laura Fairford, Ralph’s sister.

Clare Dagonet

Clare Dagonet (da-goh-NAY), Ralph’s cousin and the wife of Peter Van Degen.

Mr. Spragg

Mr. Spragg, Undine’s father. He is forced by Moffatt to invest money to further Moffatt’s early financial career.

The Custom of the Country Characters

In folklore, an undine is a water spirit, a mysterious, beautiful creature which can acquire a soul by marrying a mortal, but as Mrs. Spragg...

(The entire section is 1364 words.)