The Spectator Club Character Analysis

Who are the members of the Spectator Club?

The members of the Spectator Club, created by Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, are Sir Roger de Coverley, Sir Andrew Freeport, Captain Sentry, Will Honeycomb, and two unnamed gentlemen, the Templar and the Clergyman.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The characters in Sir Richard Steele's essay "The Spectator Club" all serve to represent different types of people in upper-class English society. In doing this, Steele is able to comment on elements of the upper class, like the different political views and social interests within it.

The first member of the club whom Steele introduces is Sir Roger de Coverley. He is "a gentleman of Worcestershire," and it is said that he has good sense and no enemies. In a way, he represents the idealized "gentleman" of upper-class English society at this time.

Steele then writes about "another bachelor," a member of the Inner Temple who is a man of great principles and wit who studies the stage and classical philosophers. He represents those in the upper class who do not understand matters of law or economics but are still well-read intellectuals.

The next member is Sir Andrew Freeport, a successful businessman from London. He is well-versed in economic matters and made his fortune himself. Because of his self-made success, he believes that "England may be richer than other kingdoms by as plain methods as he himself is richer than other men." He represents those in the upper class who felt that England's power should come through industry and not arms.

Then the reader learns about Captain Sentry, a brave military captain. Captain Sentry is someone who does not hold back at expressing his views about what makes a military man. He firmly believes that men can only be in the military if they "get over all false modesty," because holding back out of modesty is cowardice. He represents the idealized, upper-class military man whose bravery and commitment to his duty have made him successful and strong.

After Captain Sentry, Steele writes about Will Honeycomb. He is an old socialite who has always had easy access to money. He spends most of his time with women or engaged in what were considered to be women's interests, like fashion and gossip. Despite his age, he always seems to be the life of the party who can liven up any conversation. "Where women are not concerned, he is an honest worthy man," Steel writes. Honeycomb represents those in the upper class who were not concerned with serious business matters like Freeport but rather focused on their social lives.

Finally, Steele writes that there is another who seldom visits because of his poor health; but when he does, he is an enjoyable company. This is the clergyman, a "philosophic" man of "good breeding" who always speaks on divine topics with authority. He has a lot of followers and a positive attitude, despite his poor health. This representation depicts English clergymen as intellectual, caring people.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sir Richard Steele's essay "The Spectator Club" describes six members whose activities and characters are elaborated upon in various other essays by Steele and his collaborator, Joseph Addison. The six characters Steele describes are as follows.

Sir Roger de Coverley

Sir Roger is a cheerful, courteous country gentleman of fifty-five. He was disappointed in love by a beautiful young widow, after which he became melancholy for a time, but his spirits have recovered, and he is loved by his neighbors and tenants. His habits and dress are old-fashioned, and his views are conservative.

The Templar

This unnamed member of the Inner Temple (one of the four Inns of Court, where barristers are trained) prefers the stage to the study of law. He studies the ancient orators Demosthenes and Cicero but knows nothing of modern law.

Sir Andrew Freeport

Sir Andrew is a merchant, and a great believer in trade as a way of extending British influence in the world. He is a self-made man, wealthier than other members but from a humbler background.

Captain Sentry

Captain Sentry is a military officer who is brave and modest. He has many stories to tell, having lived an adventurous life, but he is never overbearing in relating them.

Will Honeycomb

Will Honeycomb is an old gentleman who is generally agreeable but is rather too interested in fashion and trivia, particularly in clothes, hairstyles, and gossip of women from many years ago.

The Clergyman

The clergyman is learned, pious and well-bred. However, his health is poor and he seldom joins the other members of the Spectator Club.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Spectator (1711-1712 and 1714) was a weekly magazine written by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, which followed an earlier weekly magazine, also written by Addison and Steele, called The Tatler.  While The Tatler was designed, chiefly by Steele, to discuss moral issues in light, somewhat gentle and humorous essays, The Spectator focused more consistently on political, philosophical, religious and literary issues, for the most part from what we would now call a liberal perspective (in the 18thC., the Whigs) as opposed to the more conservative political party, the Tories.  Despite the political focus, however, the characters who form the Spectator Club are not viciously satirized--rather, like the essays in The Tatler, the satire is relatively mild but, from a political perspective,  pointed enough so that readers understood that Tories should not be running the government.

The most memorable member of the club is Sir Roger de Coverley, a confused member of the landed gentry whose political, philosophical and religious ideas are about a hundered years behind the times.  He represents Addison and Steele's version of the typical Tory of the mid-18thC.--too conservative, old-fashioned, clinging to outmoded moral beliefs, unsympathetic to the plight of the comman man, blissfully unaware of economic and social changes in society.

The remainder of the club members included Mr. Spectator, who gave opinions on many issues (for example, politics, education, morality, literature); the Templar--all things related to education, legal matters and literature; Will Honeycomb--social life, including fashion;  the Clergyman--religion and moral issues; Sir Andrew Freeport--business and economic matters (he was the opposite of Sir Roger); and Captain Sentry--military matters.  In short, some member of the club could and would discuss virtually every meaningful aspect of 18thC. British society.

From a literary perspective, the significance of The Spectator is that Addison, who wrote most of the essays, perfected the essay as a way to discuss important social, political, and religious issues in what Dr. Johnson called the "middle style," aimed at an educated but not scholarly readership.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team