Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1216
Daniel Deronda, the ward of Sir Hugo Mallinger and a noble, well-educated gentleman. At Cambridge University, he helps a poor student, Hans Meyrick, to pass a scholarship examination. He rescues a young Jewish woman, Mirah Lapidoth, from drowning in the Thames, helps to start her on a singing career, and later marries her. He spends a great deal of time wondering about his parentage and searching for some knowledge of his past in the Jewish East End of London. At the end of the novel, before his marriage, he is pleased to learn that he is Jewish.
Gwendolen Harleth, an impoverished beauty who feels that she must marry a wealthy man in order to live the elegant life she desires. After rejecting several dull suitors, she marries Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt, a wealthy heir, despite the fact that she knows Grandcourt has deserted the mistress who has borne him four children. She marries him after her widowed mother has lost all their money in a stock failure. The marriage is unhappy because Gwendolen is secretly in love with Daniel Deronda. After Grandcourt drowns in a yachting accident, Gwendolen feels guilty because she might have done much more to save him and had previously wished him dead. She confesses as much to Daniel, who has always disapproved of her gambling, recklessness, and love of finery. Hoping to marry Daniel, she is disappointed when he tells her about Mirah. She resolves to reform and to live for others.
Mirah Lapidoth, the young Jewish woman whom Daniel saves from suicide and later marries. Because she has been abandoned, Daniel takes her to the home of some friends. She recovers, has a successful singing career, and is reunited with her brother Mordecai before marrying Daniel.
Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt
Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt, the nephew and heir of Sir Hugo Mallinger. He deserts his mistress after nine years and marries Gwendolen Harleth. A cold, supercilious man, he succeeds in breaking Gwendolen’s spirit. After he drowns, his will reveals that he has left his property to his illegitimate son and has provided for his mistress better than he has for Gwendolen.
Sir Hugo Mallinger
Sir Hugo Mallinger, the intelligent and benevolent owner of Diplow Hall. He has brought up Daniel Deronda and is enormously fond of him. He feels that Daniel is an English gentleman and objects when Daniel wishes to acknowledge the fact that he is Jewish; however, the two remain close friends.
Lady Mallinger, his wife, whom he did not marry until after he had adopted Daniel.
Ezra Lapidoth (Mordecai)
Ezra Lapidoth (Mordecai), Mirah’s brother, a consumptive, learned young Jew who lives with the Cohens and gives lessons to Cohen’s son. He also works in a bookshop. Abandoned by his father, he has known poverty and hardship. Daniel finds him, discovers his relationship to Mirah, and reunites the two. Much of Daniel’s feeling of identification with Jews comes through his conversations with Mordecai. Mordecai dies at the end of the novel.
Ezra Cohen, a crafty but generous East End shopkeeper with whom Mordecai boards. He first introduces Daniel to life in the Jewish section of London.
Mrs. Lydia Glasher
Mrs. Lydia Glasher, an attractive woman who had left her husband, an Irish officer, and son to become Grandcourt’s mistress. She has four illegitimate children by him. She tells her story to Gwendolen because she believes that Gwendolen should morally refuse Grandcourt’s offer of marriage.
Hans Meyrick, a Cambridge student. Daniel Deronda helps him win a scholarship when Hans’s eyes are temporarily useless as the result of an accident. Hans falls in love with Mirah, but she rejects him. He becomes an artist and something of a dilettante.
Mrs. Fanny Davilow
Mrs. Fanny Davilow, Gwendolen’s widowed mother. She is constantly ruled by headstrong Gwendolen.
The Reverend Henry Gascoigne
The Reverend Henry Gascoigne, formerly Captain Gaskin, the rector of Pennicote, near Offendene.
Mrs. Nancy Gascoigne
Mrs. Nancy Gascoigne, his wife, Mrs. Davilow’s sister. She tries to help Fanny, her less fortunate sister, and she introduces Gwendolen to eligible young men, but she cannot resist letting everyone know of her generosity.
Rex Gascoigne, their son, reading for the law. He is in love with his cousin Gwendolen.
Anna Gascoigne, his rather plain and meek sister, who tries to help Gwendolen.
Warham Gascoigne, her brother, who goes to India.
Herr Julius Klesmer
Herr Julius Klesmer, a German-Jewish musician who is hired as a tutor at Quetcham Hall, the home of the Arrowpoints. He helps to launch Mirah’s singing career and becomes important in the London musical world.
Catherine Arrowpoint, a talented and attractive young woman, Gwendolen’s only rival in the social world near Pennicote. She falls in love with her tutor, Julius Klesmer, and marries him despite her parents’ objections.
Mrs. Arrowpoint, Catherine’s mother. She had hoped that her daughter would make a more socially acceptable match.
Mr. Arrowpoint, her husband, a hospitable gentleman.
Thomas Lush, Grandcourt’s scheming follower and companion.
Mrs. Meyrick, Hans’s mother, who takes in and nurses Mirah when Daniel brings her to the Meyrick home. A poor and kind woman, she dotes on Daniel.
Kate Meyrick, her oldest daughter, who sews and embroiders.
Amy Meyrick, the second daughter.
Mab Meyrick, the youngest daughter, talented musically.
Alice Davilow, Gwendolen’s rather plain half sister.
Bertha Davilow and
Fanny Davilow, also half sisters, both “whisperers.”
Isabel Davilow, another half sister, a listening child.
Miss Merry, governess to the four Davilow girls.
Mr. Middleton, the curate at Pennicote, in love with Gwendolen.
Lady Brackenshaw, the social leader of Pennicote.
Lord Brackenshaw, her husband.
Mrs. Vulcany, a Pennicote gossip.
Princess Leonora Halm-Eberstein
Princess Leonora Halm-Eberstein, Daniel’s mother, a singer and actress who had given Daniel to Sir Hugo Mallinger in order that her son might be brought up a gentleman and not be aware of his Jewish origin. Sir Hugo, in love with her at the time, had agreed. She reveals herself to Daniel in Genoa.
Joseph Kalonymos, a Mainz banker and a friend of Daniel’s grandfather. Daniel visits him to learn more about his heritage.
Mr. Lapidoth, Mirah’s father, an unsuccessful actor and singer who had deserted his children and absconded with their money. He reappears, and his children forgive him.
Mrs. Addy Cohen
Mrs. Addy Cohen, Ezra Cohen’s wife.
Mrs. Cohen, Ezra’s mother, who helps in the shop.
Jacob Alexander Cohen
Jacob Alexander Cohen, Ezra’s precocious son, whom Mordecai tutors.
Adelaide Rebekah Cohen
Adelaide Rebekah Cohen, Ezra’s attractive, dark-eyed daughter.
Eugenie Esther Cohen
Eugenie Esther Cohen, a baby.
Mr. Ram, owner of the East End bookshop where Mordecai works and where Mordecai and Daniel meet.
Baroness von Langen
Baroness von Langen, Gwendolen’s hostess when she is gambling at the Casino in Leubronn.
Baron von Langen
Baron von Langen, her husband.
Mr. Vandernoodt, a wealthy and social gentleman staying at Leubronn.
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