Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 986
Roderick Random, familiarly called Rory, a reckless and restless young man whose experiences parallel to a certain extent those of the author himself. Rory’s mother dies when he is born, and his father, disinherited by his family because he had married a poor relation and a domestic, leaves England. The libertine and unscrupulous Random goes through all the stages of the eighteenth century picaresque hero. As a boy, he is mistreated by alienated relatives; he is befriended and educated (in medicine) by a sympathetic one. His life is a series of assumed identities, leading to whirlwind courtships and attempted marriages to a number of wealthy women. Robbed by a rascally friar in France, he enlists in the army of King Louis XIV. When things seem to be going too well or too badly for Random, an antagonist or a protagonist appears to change the course of his life. Sea voyages and escapades in foreign countries seem to be Random’s plight, until in Buenos Aires he meets a wealthy English trader who proves to be his father. After a series of events making for an unsettled, nomadic life, Random is established, happily married, on his father’s estate, from which he was evicted as a youngster. Although he often acts without scruples, Random is likable, and in the end he is a personable young man.
Tom Bowling, Random’s uncle, a lieutenant aboard HMS Thunder. Appearing early in the story, he becomes Random’s benefactor. His first move is to get Random away from mean relatives and into school. As unsettled as his nephew, Bowling fights duels on sea and land, is robbed, loses and regains command of ships, and suffers at the hands of ingrates he has befriended. Always the old salt, especially in avoiding interference in others’ personal affairs, he makes his will in favor of Random and goes to sea again after seeing his young relative comfortable financially and happy maritally.
Hugh Strap, a schoolmate of Random. Like Bowling, Strap appears propitiously now and again to save Random from disaster or death. At times, Strap’s good deeds lead to further involvements for his friend. Strap, an imaginative, romantic figure, curries the favor of a French nobleman to secure employment and an inheritance from his master. As the moneyed M. d’Estrapes, he grooms Random as a fine gentleman so that the scapegrace can make a wealthy marriage in England. His kindnesses are repaid when Random comes into money and acquaints Strap with the latter’s wife to be.
Narcissa, the niece of the eccentric bluestocking to whom Random hires out as a footman. Narcissa falls in love with Random and he with her. Despite both her relatives and fate working against her and Random, the beautiful, clever Narcissa remains faithful to him, avoids marriage with any of her many suitors, and in the end becomes his wife.
Don Roderigo, the wealthy English trader whom Random meets in Buenos Aires. Don Roderigo, who has made a fortune through the favors of a Spanish grandee, proves to be Random’s father. Don Roderigo buys his paternal estate from a debt-ridden heir, and the Random family settles once more in Scotland.
Nancy Williams, a prostitute to whom Random gives medical care after she is taken ill on the street. Their recurring contacts lead to Williams becoming Narcissa’s attendant. She marries Strap.
The Squire, Narcissa’s drunken, fox-hunting brother. His disposition is best described by his aunt, who refers to him as the Savage. The Squire’s chief function in the plot is to contend against Random and to urge his sister toward other suitors.
Sir Timothy Thicket
Sir Timothy Thicket, one of Narcissa’s suitors, whom Random beats with a cudgel for forcing his attentions on Narcissa.
Melinda Goosetrap, a young woman of fortune whom Random courts. He fails in his suit because Melinda’s mother sees through his disguise as a person of means. Melinda even wins at cards with Random as he is trying to get some of her money through gambling. She exposes him when she finds him pursuing other wealthy girls.
Miss Snapper, a witty, wealthy, and deformed young woman also courted by Random after he saves her and her mother from highwaymen. He neglects her after meeting Narcissa in Bath.
Lord Quiverwit, another of Narcissa’s suitors, favored by her brother. Random defeats him in a duel.
Lieutenant Crampley, the commander of theLizard, one of the ships on which Random serves. Crampley appears to hound Random in an effort to right an old wrong.
Captain Oakhum, members of ships’ crews. They are representative of the many individuals involved in Random’s experiences.
Launcelot Crab, the surgeon who lends Random money. Crab is only one of innumerable doctors, on land and at sea, who affect Random’s fortunes.
Bragwell, three of the wide circle of young men, in London and Bath, who are friends or foes of Random.
Mrs. Sagely, a kind old woman who befriends and takes care of Random after he has been seriously injured in a fight.
An eccentric bluestocking lady
An eccentric bluestocking lady, Narcissa’s aunt, whom Mrs. Sagely persuades to hire Random as a footman. Random’s employer, an authoress of sorts, takes to Random because of his interpretation of her writing. She offsets some of the Squire’s antagonism throughout Random’s pursuit of Narcissa.
Frère Balthazar, a Scottish priest, referred to as the Capuchin. As are many churchmen in eighteenth century writing, the Capuchin is debauched. Among his misdeeds is the theft of Random’s money, a loss that forces him to enlist in the French army.
Cite this page as follows:
"The Adventures of Roderick Random - Characters Discussed" Great Characters in Literature Ed. A. J. Sobczak and Frank N. Magill. eNotes.com, Inc. 1998 eNotes.com 15 Aug. 2022 <https://www.enotes.com/topics/adventures-roderick-random/characters#characters-characters-discussed>
Note: When citing an online source, it is important to include all necessary dates. The citation above will include either 2 or 3 dates.
- If there are three dates, the first date is the date of the original publication in traditional print. The second is the date of publication online or last modification online. The last date is today's date — the date you are citing the material.
- If there are two dates, the date of publication and appearance online is the same, and will be the first date in the citation. The second date is today's date — the date you are citing the material.