Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 727
Madame Savilia de Franchi
Madame Savilia de Franchi (sa-vee-LYEEUH deh frahn-SHEE), the kind, indomitable, aristocratic Corsican hostess of the narrator. Although widowed and reduced to lesser means from former affluence, Madame de Franchi takes great pride in hospitality at her Sullacaro estate and is honored to have as a guest an eminent novelist. The mother of Siamese twins who had been separated successfully, she learns of her absent son’s health through the report of the psychic twin at home. As a family, she explains, the de Franchis have had an interesting history; she and her husband, with guns kept prominently on display, managed to settle an ancient vendetta by killing simultaneously two enemy brothers. One son received from her his ability to fight and manage; the other was more scholarly and introspective. Gracious and dignified, she impresses the author as the epitome of Corsican traits.
Lucien de Franchi
Lucien de Franchi (lew-SYAHN), her outgoing sportsman son, who has remained with his mother to manage the family estate and provide for her welfare. Something of a diplomat, the hardy and handsome Lucien succeeds in settling another vendetta carried on for years between rival families living nearby. As the host of the author, Lucien takes his guest along to witness the truce, discusses his love of his native mountains, and displays his skill in hunting. He explains also that he and his brother Louis are completely devoted to each other in spite of their sharp differences in tastes, abilities, interests, and appearances—strange differences for identical twins who seem to share in part their nervous systems. Some months later in Paris, the loyal brother avenges the death of his scholarly twin. No vendetta results, but his vengeance is complete when he kills his antagonist in a duel, just as Louis had been killed. Only then is the young Corsican able to give vent to his grief for the loss of a part of himself.
Louis de Franchi
Louis de Franchi (lwee), the scholarly twin, a somewhat effete young man who nevertheless possesses the feelings of pride and honor of his illustrious family. He also plays host to the narrator in Paris and reveals that he is distraught over a love affair, the reason why his brother Lucien has recently felt depressed. His deep love for Emelie, concealed from his good friend, her husband, forces him to defend her honor even though he knows the result will be his death. Hoping to conceal the truth from his mother and brother, he entrusts to his new friend a letter in which he says that he is suffering from a brain fever. The narrator acts as Louis’ second in the duel. As he feared, Louis is killed. Lucien learns of the tragedy by intuition, for Louis died of a bullet wound below his sixth rib and Lucien carries the stigmata. In spite of the fact that Louis wished no more Corsican violence, his death is courageously avenged.
Emelie, the beautiful but unfaithful wife of a sea captain and the friend of Louis, in whose trust she is placed. Herself in love with a married man and beloved by her loyal friend, she resents the young man’s intrusion into her intrigue. Being made the sport of the lover, she turns to Louis in order to save face.
M. de Chateau-Renaud
M. de Chateau-Renaud (sha-TOH reh-NOH ), Emelie’s lover, who humiliates her at a supper party attended by the narrator and his Corsican friend. Having compelled Emelie to accompany him on a wager, he challenges her defender to a duel....
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He responds just as bravely to the challenge from the murdered man’s brother, who kills him.
The narrator, Alexandre Dumas, the Corsican traveler. With all the romantic flamboyance of his nature, Dumas reveals himself as an admirer of the Corsican spirit, the pride of birth, family, country as well as independence, bravery, and loyalty. Purportedly recounting a historic tragedy, the narrator really embellishes a legend.
Orlandi (ohr-lahn-DEE), a Corsican bandit, and
Colonna (koh-lohn-NAH), the heads of two families whose vendetta was caused by a quarrel over a chicken. Lucien de Franchi is the mediator in settling the feud.
Griffo, the servant of Lucien de Franchi.
D———, the narrator’s friend, the host at the supper party at which M. de Chateau-Renaud appears with Emelie.