The Confidential Clerk

by T. S. Eliot

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Characters Discussed

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Sir Claude Mulhammer

Sir Claude Mulhammer, a successful middle-aged financier who lives in London with his wife, Lady Elizabeth, and illegitimate daughter Lucasta. He has just employed his illegitimate son Colby Simpkins as his new confidential clerk. His wife is not aware of the existence of this son; Sir Claude hopes to have her accept him as his clerk (and possibly grow fond of him) before divulging Colby’s real identity to her. Sir Claude trusts his former confidential clerk, Eggerson, explicitly and asks his help to sort out the delicate situation at home. Through his conversations with Eggerson and Colby, readers learn that Sir Claude had aspired in his youth to be a potter and was therefore a disappointed artist, though successful in the profession he took up to please his father. He is a sentimentalist and dreams of bringing Colby into the house in his true status as son. In a series of farcical situations and revelations, Sir Claude is both pleasantly surprised and then distressed. His wife welcomes Colby as the new clerk, and it is revealed that Colby is not his son after all. Sir Claude learns through these experiences and is both sad and happy at the end, sad to lose the son he longed for but happy to form a new family unit with Lacasta and Kaghan.

Eggerson

Eggerson, Sir Claude’s former confidential clerk, the soul of discretion and trustworthiness. Although he has retired from his position at the Mulhammers’, he remains their friend and consultant through family crises. Sir Claude depends on him to undertake the most delicate of operations to negotiate a peaceful existence with Lady Elizabeth. Eggerson is a quiet and intelligent man who is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the investigation that will reveal the true identities of Colby and Kaghan. He has found an inner balance between reality and spirituality. Apart from helping out the Mulhammer household when called on to do so, he spends his days peacefully tending his garden in a suburb of London.

Colby Simpkins

Colby Simpkins, Sir Claude’s new confidential clerk and apparently his illegitimate son. Sir Claude has supported his upbringing at the home of his aunt, Mrs. Guzzard. He considers himself a failed musician and has turned unwillingly to a clerk’s profession instead of following his true desires to fulfillment. He is uneasy with the idea of joining the Mulhammer family as their son and apprehensive of Lady Elizabeth’s reactions to him. He is a deeply spiritual young man who is searching for a way to integrate his public and private lives; he cannot accept that this can be achieved in the affluence of his new position. Colby is relieved when it is revealed that his aunt, Mrs. Guzzard, is actually his mother and that he is the son of another disappointed musician. The revelation of his identity allows Colby to resolve to follow his dreams for whatever they are worth. Eggerson shrewdly conjectures that his ultimate calling lies with the church.

Lucasta Angel

Lucasta Angel, Sir Claude’s illegitimate daughter, who often pretends to be a little crazy. As is discovered in her conversation with Colby, she too is searching for some inner truth and is afraid to reveal her innermost thoughts and desires to the world. Engaged to the businessman B. Kaghan, she finds herself troubled by her attraction to Colby but realizes that he does not really need a close human relationship, as she desires. Kaghan understands her well, and she is relieved formally to announce her impending marriage to him. When the truth about the identities of Colby and Kaghan...

(This entire section contains 781 words.)

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are revealed, she and Kaghan sincerely promise to build a meaningful family unit with the Mulhammers.

B. Kaghan

B. Kaghan, a businessman who is Lucasta’s fiancé. He is revealed to be Lady Elizabeth’s long-lost illegitimate son, whom she gave up in his youth. He is embarrassed and confused by his new identity but appears to be sincere and affectionate.

Lady Elizabeth Mulhammer

Lady Elizabeth Mulhammer, Sir Claude’s wife, an idiosyncratic lady with a good and sympathetic heart. She spends her time exploring concepts of mind control and spiritual healing. She shows a surprising depth of intelligence in a conversation with her husband, during which she deduces that they have not tried to understand each other and others. She vows that they should do so in the future.

Sarah Guzzard

Sarah Guzzard, who reared Colby with Sir Claude’s financial help. She is revealed to be Colby’s mother. A dignified and intelligent woman, she is most important for solving the play’s mysteries by revealing the true identities of Colby and Kaghan.

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