Please provide a character sketch from The Duchess and the Jeweller by Virginia Woolf with any relevant quotes.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Oliver Bacon is a man of habit and is the jeweller in The Duchess and the Jeweller. In the very first paragraph, the reader is introduced to a seemingly pedantic man, shallow and "proper" with the "right whiskies" ensuring his status in life. It does not take long for his lowly beginnings and his past to be revealed. 

Unfortunately, however, for all of Oliver's progress in life and being "the richest jeweller in England," he is not satisfied and still strives for something that is missing from his life. "So Oliver snuffed always in the rich earth of Mayfair another truffle, a blacker, a bigger further off." Oliver finds some satisfaction in the fact that he, a poor boy who used to play "marbles in the alley where they sell stolen dogs on Sunday," can keep the "daughter of a hundred Earls" waiting.

The relationship between Oliver and the Duchess is confirmed in Oliver's acknowledgement that 

They were friends, yet enemies; he was master, she was mistress; each cheated the other, each needed the other, each feared the other... 

Oliver is apparently desperate to be a part of the circle in which the duchess mixes, especially as her daughter - Diana- is in his sights. The duchess teases him with talk of Diana and he allows the duchess to cheat him with fake pearls for the chance to be in Diana's company, and ride "alone in the woods with Diana!' It is revealed that the pearls are in fact fake: "This, then, was the truffle he had routed out of the earth! Rotten at the centre — rotten at the core!" 

“It is to be a long week-end” is the excuse he offers by way of apology to his dead mother, "the old woman in the picture." Thus Oliver's acceptance of the price he must pay to be part of the inner circle, amongst the rich reveals his true character and his vulnerabilities are exposed as he is once again reduced to "a little boy in the alley where they sold dogs on Sunday."

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