Characters Discussed

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Olive Chancellor

Olive Chancellor, the portrait of the Boston lady. She is won over to the cause of the suffragists but exercises poor taste in attempting to accomplish their goals.

Adeline Luna

Adeline Luna, her sister. She is a worldly woman who does not subscribe to the concept of the “new woman.”

Basil Random

Basil Random, her cousin from Mississippi. A lawyer practicing in New York City, he falls in love with Verena Tarrant’s voice, if not her ideas, and is able to persuade her to marry him. He believes that people must excel within their appointed stations in society.

Verena Tarrant

Verena Tarrant, Olive’s protégée. An attractive young woman, Verena possesses few ideas of her own but is groomed for the cause of the woman suffrage movement. She is saved from this fate, however, by Basil Random, who carries her off to Mississippi as his bride.

Selah Tarrant

Selah Tarrant, Verena’s father, a fake mesmeric healer.

Mrs. Tarrant

Mrs. Tarrant, Verena’s mother. She is the daughter of Boston abolitionists.

Miss Birdseye

Miss Birdseye, an eighty-year-old reformer who is both sincere and ineffectual. Henry James’s favorite character, she dies believing that Basil Random has been persuaded of the need for a women’s movement.

Dr. Prance

Dr. Prance, a woman who is a true doctor and who, in her real and practical way, is doing more for the women’s rights movement than the suffragists.

Mrs. Burrage

Mrs. Burrage, a New York society hostess.

Henry Burrage

Henry Burrage, her son, a Harvard undergraduate who courts Verena.

Mrs. Farrinder

Mrs. Farrinder, a suffragist campaigner who is suspicious of Tarrant.

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Chapter Summaries


Critical Essays