Characters Discussed

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William (Bill) Crichton

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William (Bill) Crichton, the butler to the earl of Loam. Stuffy, honest, and efficient, Crichton has one complaint about his master: He is not contemptuous enough of his inferiors. While in England, Crichton believes that the established social order is absolutely correct. Stranded on an island, however, he believes in the natural selection of leaders. When everyone realizes how efficient he is, Crichton takes command; he is stern, fair, and almost regal in his deportment.

The earl of Loam

The earl of Loam, a peer of the realm and Crichton’s liberal master. In theory, the earl believes in the equality of all members of society. Once a month, he has his servants in for tea. When he has an opportunity to practice his theories in fact, he becomes an ardent believer in the supremacy of the aristocracy. When the yachting party of which he is host is cast away on a Pacific island, he proves completely ineffectual. For a time, he is his pompous self, until he realizes his utter incapability of leading the stranded party. After Crichton assumes command, the other castaways call him “Daddy,” and he seems quite happy doing odd jobs around the camp.

The Hon. Ernest Woolley

The Hon. Ernest Woolley, a nephew of the earl of Loam and a maker of brilliant epigrams. Ernest is a cheerful, egotistical young man about town with enough shrewdness to avoid work entirely. In London, he idles away his time making witty remarks. Soon after being stranded on the island, however, his talent for wit gets him into trouble with Crichton, now the leader of the party. With every epigram that Ernest makes, Crichton dips his head into a bucket of cold water, thus curing Ernest of a useless habit. Proving himself to be very adaptable, he becomes a diligent worker. After returning to England, however, he reverts to type, and between epigrams he manages to write a book about his island experience, making himself the hero of the adventure. In the book, the contributions of the rest of the party, including Crichton, are dealt with summarily.

Lady Mary

Lady Mary, the oldest daughter of the earl of Loam. A part of a useless aristocracy, she is haughty, proud, and languorous. After the shipwreck, she shows herself to be adaptable and courageous. Unlike her former self in England, she becomes a useful member of the island society. The hunter of the group, she has the opportunity to wait on the “Gov.” (Crichton). If a rescue ship had not arrived, she would have been chosen to become Crichton’s wife.


Agatha and


Catherine, younger daughters of the earl of Loam. After being on the island for a time, they also learn to do things for themselves, and no longer do they depend on maids to answer their every whim. At first, the lack of domestic help is trying to them.

Lord Brocklehurst

Lord Brocklehurst, the man Mary has chosen to be her husband. He is a complete nonentity, a mother’s boy, humorless, pompous, correct, cold, and useless.


Treherne, a pleasant and athletic young clergyman. He is the first to realize that Crichton is the natural leader of the group on the island.


Tweeny, in England the “between” maid. When the earl of Loam decrees that the three sisters can have only one maid among them, she goes with them, mainly to be near Crichton. On the island, she proves to be a useful helper.

Lady Brocklehurst

Lady Brocklehurst, Lord Brocklehurst’s formidable, domineering mother. After the return of the seafarers, she tries to learn what really happened on the island.


Rolleston, the valet to the earl of Loam.


Fisher, Lady Mary’s maid, who refuses to go on the cruise.

Themes and Characters

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The characters in The Admirable Crichton fall into two categories: masters and servants. The characters belong to different categories on the Pacific island than they do...

(The entire section contains 1770 words.)

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Critical Essays