Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Luiza (lew-EE-sah), the blonde, beautiful wife of Jorge. During Jorge’s prolonged absence, she has an affair with her cousin Bazilio. When she discovers that her maid has stolen some of their love notes and letters, she wants to escape to Paris with him. She refuses at first to accept money from Bazilio to pay off Juliana. To keep Juliana from revealing her secret, Luiza grants Juliana her every wish, even to the point of doing her work for her. Luiza’s love for Bazilio turns to hate, and she longs for Jorge’s return. The strains of hiding her affair and dealing with Juliana’s constant demands break her health. In desperation, she writes to Bazilio to send her money so she can extricate herself from the intolerable situation. Before she receives a reply from him, however, Jorge returns. After Luiza recovers from a long illness precipitated by Juliana’s death, Jorge confronts her with Bazilio’s reply to her letter, causing her sudden relapse and death from brain fever.


Jorge (HOHR-heh), Luiza’s devoted and rather conventional husband, a government mining engineer. He has accepted an extended assignment in the Alentejo, a mining region in southern Portugal. After his return, Juliana’s behavior infuriates him, and he wants Luiza to fire her. He is consumed with jealousy when he intercepts Bazilio’s letter to Luiza and realizes that she might have been unfaithful to him. He nurses her back to health from one fever, only to cause her final collapse by demanding an explanation for the contents of Bazilio’s letter.

Bazilio de Brito

Bazilio de Brito (bah-

(The entire section is 704 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Like most nineteenth century novelists, José Maria de Eça de Queiróz makes moral judgments of his characters, but his tendency to moralize is complemented by his caustic vision of the pretensions and stupidity of mankind. The novel is called Cousin Bazilio, but the seducer is merely a catalyst. Luiza is the main character. Despite her intellectual and emotional limitations, Eça de Queiróz remains sympathetic to the beautiful young lady. As Sebastian observes, “There aren’t any bad women, my dear Senhora, there are only bad men.” The most interesting aspect of Luiza’s character involves the violent conflict between propriety and desire. Her voluptuous response to the dangers of adultery and the rapture she experiences from openly breaking laws and conventions is described as “the soul [seeking] its own discomfiture with sensual appetites and tremblings of desire.” Despite her humiliations and punishments, Luiza never fully abandons her passion for Bazilio.

Bazilio is a callous and predictable stage villain who triumphantly twirls his mustache after sexual conquests: “Adultery appeared in his talk as an aristocratic obligation. After hearing him one would have thought virtue was the defect of mediocre spirits.” Jorge, though a decent man, suffers because of his complacency and his inability to sustain a lasting passion with Luiza. During a theoretical discussion at the beginning of the novel, Jorge exclaims that he would kill his wife if she were unfaithful, and he finally becomes the inadvertent cause of her death. Councilor Accacio is an effective comic caricature, and the scene in which he insists on accompanying Luiza, who is desperate to meet Bazilio at their Paradise, is brilliantly executed. The most interesting and most repulsive character is the sexually starved Juliana. She personifies pure hatred and forces Luiza to pay for her sin.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Coleman, Alexander. Eça de Queiróz and European Realism, 1980.

Fedorchek, Robert. “Luiza’s Dream Worlds in O primo Basilio,” in Romance Notes. XV (Spring, 1974), pp. 532-535.

Pritchett, V.S. “A Portuguese Diplomat: Eça de Queiróz,” in The Myth Makers, 1979.

Rougle, W.P. “The Role of Food in Five Major Novels by Eça de Queiróz,” in Luso-Brazilian Review. XIII (Winter, 1976), pp. 157-181.

Stevens, James. “Eça and Flaubert,” in Luso-Brazilian Review. III (May, 1966), pp. 47-61.