The Gormenghast Trilogy Characters

Mervyn Peake

The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

As has been suggested earlier, Peake draws his characters as grotesques. It is no surprise that an artist should provide strongly visual presentations of his characters, presentations aided in most editions by illustrations by the author. Many of these characters remind the reader of the “humour” characters of seventeenth century English drama, people so exaggerated in one respect or another that the quirk becomes the personality of the character.

The main characters are highly individualized, each isolated in his or her own private world: Lord Sepulchrave, lost in his melancholy, mopes from one Ritual requirement to the next. Titus’ mother, Gertrude, lives in her rooms surrounded by the only creatures in the world that she loves: hundreds of birds (who come when she calls) and a host of pet white cats. His teenage sister, Fuchsia, spends her days playing in an attic gallery stuffed with discarded odds and ends. There is little interaction in the usual novelistic sense because the characters so seldom meet: Gormenghast offers sufficient room, both metaphorically and literally, for its dwellers to stake a claim and in which to preserve their own separate identities. Numerous descriptions of the castle depict it as an enormous structure, with wing after wing extending to the horizons, and in its vast expanse, each character is free to pursue an individual goal, no matter how odd. The desire most frequently expressed by the characters is a desire to be...

(The entire section is 452 words.)