Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Nigel Olifaunt

Nigel Olifaunt, lord of Glenvarloch, a gallant young Scotsman who comes to England to collect payment for injustices committed against his noble family. Naïve and impressionable, he becomes involved in gambling and ribaldry in the ordinaries and gaming houses of the town. This experience leads to his association with ruffians and life in Alsatia, the haunt of bully-boys, thieves, and murderers. A brave youth, he kills a robber in his rooming house and saves the life of Martha Trapbois, his landlord’s daughter. Imprisoned for carrying arms in the presence of King James, he languishes while his faithful servant negotiates for the money owed the Glenvarlochides, as the king calls them. On his return to Scotland, he is accompanied by his bride, Margaret Ramsay, an English commoner now known to be of noble Scottish descent.

James I

James I, king of England, whose conduct makes him a portentous clown among the Stuarts. His folly, insensibilities, and erudition are interwoven to make him a comedic character, to the detriment of the suspense of the story.

Richard (Richie) Moniplies

Richard (Richie) Moniplies, Nigel’s faithful page. His capabilities and fortitude make Nigel’s expedition a success. Richie’s impudence is offset by better qualities, to justify his winning the wealthiest woman, although of low birth, in the story. Money becomes Richie more than rank or station.

Lord Dalgarno

Lord Dalgarno, a spendthrift Scotsman who knows the ways of London. Befriending the newly arrived Nigel, Dalgarno introduces him to the seamy side of life, only to desert him in time of reverses and to report Nigel’s unbecoming behavior to court circles. The villain Dalgarno marries Martha Trapbois, a usurer’s daughter, for her large sum of money, but deserts her and takes another man’s wife with him when he starts back to Scotland. Richie murders him.

Master George Heriot

Master George Heriot, an old goldsmith and confidant of the king who is involved in most of the political intrigue surrounding Nigel’s efforts to regain family property and Dalgarno’s rascality to prevent Nigel’s success.

Reginald Lowestoffe

Reginald Lowestoffe, a young, profligate law student who befriends Nigel in Alsatia. He aids Richie in avenging Nigel against Dalgarno.


(The entire section is 996 words.)