(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Thorold, Earl Tresham

Thorold, Earl Tresham, a proud English nobleman who is resolved to keep his family’s reputation untarnished. Horrified when he discovers that his sister has taken a lover, he traps the man and kills him in a duel. He poisons himself, hoping that his death, his sister’s, and her lover’s will erase the blot on the family escutcheon.

Henry, Earl Mertoun

Henry, Earl Mertoun, the suitor of Mildred, Earl Tresham’s sister. He wants to cover up their affair by marrying the girl, whom he truly loves. He is found sneaking into the castle one night, is challenged to a duel, and is killed by Earl Tresham, against whom he does not try to defend himself.


Mildred, Earl Tresham’s fourteen-year-old sister, led by her innocence into taking Earl Mertoun as her lover. When he offers marriage, she feels she cannot in honor accept his suit to marry her as though she were truly a virgin. She dies of grief on hearing that her lover is dead.


Guendolen, a cousin of Earl Tresham and Mildred. She tries to help the young girl by convincing Earl Tresham that Earl Mertoun’s suit is honorable.

Austin Tresham

Austin Tresham, Earl Tresham’s brother and Guendolen’s fiancé. He tries, with Guendolen’s help, to save Earl Mertoun’s life after he has been wounded. Austin and his bride, Guendolen, inherit the title and estates after Earl Tresham’s death.


Gerald, the retainer who informs Earl Tresham of Mildred’s affair.