Last Updated on May 28, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315
Doctor Pascal is the protagonist of the novel. He is a medical doctor who spent twelve years practicing medicine and then decided to dedicate the rest of his life to researching and attempting to cure certain conditions. This led him to focus on researching heredity and compiling information about his family, studies which he keeps on files in his study. Doctor Pascal does not wish to become rich or famous from his research and profession but is instead interested in providing healthcare to those who do not have access to it for financial reasons.
Martine is the housekeeper who has been working for Doctor Pascal for thirty years. While she faithfully works for him, she also greatly disapproves of his non-religious lifestyle. She continually attempts to convert him to Christianity as well as to stop him from continuing his scientific research.
Clotilde is the niece of Doctor Pascal. When Dr. Pascal's brother lost his wife, he sent Clotilde to live with Doctor Pascal. Martine raises Clotilde in a strict Christian manner. Doctor Pascal attempts to intervene with his nonreligious perspective, but, because Martine was much more involved in Clotilde's upbringing, she is successful in raising her to be a devout Christian. Martine and Clotilde are determined to bring Doctor Pascal to church services.
Madame Rougon is the elderly mother of Doctor Pascal. She greatly disapproves of his research and the fact that he is not interested in becoming rich or famous. She only sees value in his research if he can use it to cure famous people. She sees no worth in him helping the poor and worries about the life trajectory of her son.
Doctor Ramond is a friend of Doctor Pascal. He is in love with Clotilde and desires to marry her. While Clotilde does consider his proposal, she ends up realizing that she is in love with Doctor Pascal.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 228
Pascal Rougon (pahs-KAHL rew-GOHN), a dedicated and selfless doctor interested in heredity. Using experimental methods, he is, to his mother’s dismay, using the members of his family as the field for his investigations. Feeling betrayed by the family’s efforts to destroy his files, Dr. Pascal fails in health. He is temporarily restored by a love affair with Clotilde but later suffers a heart attack and dies, after which the records of his research are destroyed.
Clotilde (kloh-TEELD), Pascal Rougon’s niece. Living in quiet happiness with Dr. Pascal and Martine, a growing religious conviction causes her to try to persuade Pascal to destroy his files on heredity. Urged by Dr. Ramond to marry him, she realizes that Pascal is the one she loves, and she becomes his mistress. She bears his child after his death.
Félicité Rougon (fay-lee-see-TAY), Dr. Pascal’s mother. Ashamed because her son is not the kind of successful physician she wishes him to be, and terrified lest his papers on heredity fall into the hands of strangers, she continually seeks ways to destroy his files. She succeeds in this design immediately after Dr. Pascal’s death.
Martine (mahr-TEEN), Dr. Pascal’s devoted housekeeper.
Dr. Ramond (reh-MOH[N]), Dr. Pascal’s friend and Clotilde’s suitor.
Maxime (mahk-SEEM), Clotilde’s dissolute brother.
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