Characters

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Last Updated on May 26, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 618

Mary Smith

Mary Smith is the young narrator of Cranford. The events of the novel are colored by Smith’s worldview, which is characteristically genteel and rural in nature. While Smith is not a permanent resident of Cranford, she visits the town quite often.

Matilda Jenkyns

Mild-mannered and passive, Matilda...

(The entire section contains 1001 words.)

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Mary Smith

Mary Smith is the young narrator of Cranford. The events of the novel are colored by Smith’s worldview, which is characteristically genteel and rural in nature. While Smith is not a permanent resident of Cranford, she visits the town quite often.

Matilda Jenkyns

Mild-mannered and passive, Matilda is a spinster who allowed her older sister Deborah to dictate her affairs. The death of her sister leaves Matilda helpless, as she had never lived independently. She highly values the codes of propriety that define “ladies” and “gentlemen,” and she requires much convincing before she consents to sell tea to support herself, which she at first feels is degrading. She relies heavily on her friends and is very much afraid that the decrease in her fortunes after her bank closes will result her being unable to see them anymore.

Thomas Holbrook

Thomas was once in love with Matilda, but she believed that she was first and foremost responsible for caring for her mother and thus refused his advances. He lacks the confidence to repeat his advances when he returns to the village after Matilda’s mother dies.

Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester

Miss Pole and Mrs. Forrester are the closest friends Matilda has in the village, and they stay loyal to her despite her decline in fortunes.

Peter Jenkyns

Peter is Matilda and Deborah's brother. He was once a devious young man who played a trick on his mother and was sent to India by his father as punishment. His years of banishment appear to have mellowed him, as he sacrifices everything in order to return to England and support Matilda.

Lady Glenmire

Glenmire is a kind and gentle woman who, unlike her snobbish sister-in-law Mrs. Jamieson, thinks little of her class. The other women of the village consider her to be approachable and relatable; she marries a doctor, a man beneath her in terms of social position, demonstrating her egalitarian principles.

Mr. Hoggins

Mr. Hoggins is a doctor in the village. As one of the few men in a community of women, Mr. Hoggins is not involved much in the ladies' society due to his gender; therefore, he tends to keep to himself.

Deborah Jenkyns

Deborah has a hard and calculating mind, which enables her to handle both her own affairs and those of her younger sister, Matilda. Though she does not quite have her sister’s intellect, her self-confidence enables her to be a leader among the other spinsters until her death.

Mrs. Jamieson

One of the few married women in the village, Mrs. Jamieson thinks of herself as somewhat above her friends, and she only grudgingly invites them to a dinner party where her noble sister, Lady Glenmire, is expected. She feels little familial loyalty, dismissing Glenmire as having poor taste when she marries a doctor. However, she remains the social leader of the spinsters—perhaps because of her status as a married woman.

Captain Brown

While he does not quite live up to the spinsters' notion of gentility, Captain Brown is a selfless man who suffers because his elder daughter has a terminal illness. He dies when he is hit by a train while attempting to rescue a child from the vehicle’s path.

Mary Brown

Mary Brown is Captain Brown's elder daughter. She has a good heart but is distressed—and, by consequence, irritable—due to the pain of her illness and her knowledge of her impending death. The spinsters show their kind nature in pushing past this irritability and helping her.

Jessie Brown

Jessie is Captain Brown's younger daughter. She is left without any family following the deaths of her father and sister, but she does have the sympathy of the spinsters and the love of Major Gordon, whose proposal she gladly excepts.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 383

Mary Smith

Mary Smith, a young Englishwoman who narrates the little affairs of the spinsters living in the village of Cranford.

Miss Deborah Jenkyns

Miss Deborah Jenkyns, a domineering spinster. She makes all the decisions for herself and her fifty-five-year-old unmarried sister Matilda, called Matty. They are the daughters of a rector. When Deborah dies, her sister finds it difficult to make decisions for herself.

Miss Matilda (Matty) Jenkyns

Miss Matilda (Matty) Jenkyns, who, though she has a better mind than Deborah, allows herself to be dominated by her sister. As a young woman, she had rejected a suitor in order to remain with her mother. When her financial situation becomes grave, her greatest concern is that she will be too poor to be included in the society of the village spinsters. She sets up a small shop and sells tea.

Thomas Holbrook

Thomas Holbrook, Matty’s rejected suitor.

Lady Glenmire

Lady Glenmire, Mrs. Jamieson’s sister-in-law. She upsets the little community by marrying a doctor, whom many regard as no better than a tradesman.

Mrs. Jamieson

Mrs. Jamieson, a friend of Matty. She becomes the social leader of Cranford’s spinster population upon the death of Deborah. She upsets her friends by not including them among the people she invites to meet her sister-in-law, Lady Glenmire. She later drops her sister-in-law when Lady Glenmire marries a doctor.

Mr. Hoggins

Mr. Hoggins, the doctor whom Lady Glenmire marries.

Miss Pole

Miss Pole and

Mrs. Forrester

Mrs. Forrester, friends of Matty.

Peter Jenkyns

Peter Jenkyns, the long-lost brother of Matty and Deborah. He returns to the village to care for Matilda when she is in financial straits.

Martha

Martha, Matty’s faithful maid.

Captain Brown

Captain Brown, a semi-retired man who is crude but whom the spinsters learn to accept because he is kind and considerate to them. He has two unmarried daughters.

Mary Brown

Mary Brown, Captain Brown’s older daughter, who is dying of an incurable illness.

Jessie Brown

Jessie Brown, Captain Brown’s younger daughter. After the death of her father and sister, she marries a suitor of long standing.

Major Gordon

Major Gordon, who marries Jessie.

Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith, the narrator’s kindly father. He becomes Matty’s adviser.

Betsy Barker

Betsy Barker, the owner of a famous cow.

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