(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Louis-Phillipe de Valois

Louis-Phillipe de Valois (lwee fee-LEEP deh vahl-WAH), the twenty-three-year-old duke of Orleans and cousin of King Louis XV of France, who masquerades as Victor the Barber, Monsieur Beaucaire (boh-KEHR), and the duke of Chateaurien (shah-TOH-ryah[n]). In the guise of Monsieur Beaucaire, he catches the duke of Winterset cheating at cards and blackmails Winterset into introducing him into Bath society, promising not to reveal the duke’s cheating in exchange. The duke says that everyone knows that Beaucaire arrived in England as Victor, the barber of the French ambassador, the Marquis de Mirepoix. Beaucaire says that even if that information is well known, he has a reputation in Paris, and Winterset would not be allowed to play cards when he visits there if Beaucaire spreads the knowledge that he is a cheat. Furthermore, Beaucaire has played cards with many of the men of Bath society, and if they find out that Winterset is a cheat, they might harm him physically. Previously, Beaucaire had been removed from the company of Beau Nash because he was not of nobility, but he promises to change his appearance so that no one will recognize him. He takes on the persona of the duke of Chateaurien (translatable as “Castle Nowhere”). He makes a favorable impression on the nobles and on Lady Mary Carlisle, to whom he takes a fancy. His reputation is twice challenged, and he twice defeats his challengers in fencing duels. He defends himself valiantly when attacked by Winterset’s men, but in the aftermath of the attack, his identity as the ambassador’s barber is revealed. He is told to leave Bath the next day, but he promises to see the nobles at a party held by Beau Nash...

(The entire section is 759 words.)