Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Touchstone, a blunt, honest goldsmith. The pretensions of his daughter Gertrude and his wild apprentice, Quicksilver, irritate him, while the duty and devotion of his daughter Mildred and his steady apprentice, Golding, gratify him. Although he is stern, he is too good-hearted to deny mercy to the repentant sinners.

Mistress Touchstone

Mistress Touchstone, his somewhat simple wife. Dazzled by her social-climbing daughter and her knighted son-in-law, she too irritates Touchstone. When Gertrude comes to grief, Mistress Touchstone urges her to beg her father’s forgiveness.


Gertrude, Touchstone’s haughty and ambitious daughter. She scorns her father and patronizes her mother and sister. When her husband runs off with another woman and is jailed, her pride has a fall, but even in her plea for her father’s pardon, she cannot completely avoid impudence.


Mildred, Touchstone’s dutiful daughter. She is kind and friendly even to her contemptuous, self-centered sister. With her father’s support, she marries Golding.

Francis Quicksilver

Francis Quicksilver, Touchstone’s idle and prodigal apprentice. He keeps a mistress, gambles, and wastes his little substance in riotous living. He joins Sir Petronel in a plan for a Virginia voyage. When shipwreck ends the voyage almost at its very beginning, he is imprisoned for theft and sentenced to death. He becomes sincerely repentant, and Touchstone forgives him and secures his release.


Golding, Touchstone’s diligent apprentice. Good without being self-righteous or priggish, he rises rapidly in the world and becomes an alderman’s deputy. He persuades Touchstone to visit the prison and manipulates the angry old man into forgiving his prodigal son-in-law and his prodigal apprentice.

Sir Petronel Flash

Sir Petronel Flash, a newly made knight. He dazzles Mistress Touchstone and Gertrude, whom he marries and deserts for Winifred. Imprisoned with Quicksilver, he also repents and receives forgiveness, returning to his wife.


Security, an old usurer, also imprisoned but released by Touchstone’s bounty.


Winifred, Security’s attractive young wife, who runs off with Sir Petronel but returns to Security.


Sindefy, Quicksilver’s mistress and Gertrude’s maid. At Golding’s urging, Quicksilver agrees to marry her.