Characters Discussed

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Richard Rowan

Richard Rowan, an intellectually independent and emotionally self-reliant Irish writer. In his desire not to bind or be bound, even in love, he refuses ever to advise his common-law wife Bertha, or to ask anything of her. When she accuses him of neglect, he is faced with a conflict between personal integrity and love with its consequent feelings of guilt. His conflict is resolved when he can accept Bertha’s desire to revive her relationship with Robert Hand, and Bertha is able to accept her lover’s friendship with Beatrice Justice.


Bertha, Richard Rowan’s common-law wife. Feeling neglected by her lover’s refusal to influence her or to bind her in any way, and mistaking his friendship for Beatrice Justice for a love affair, she turns to Robert Hand, who has loved her in the past. Finally, she realizes that she can never betray Richard, but her expressed desire to meet Robert freely helps her to accept Richard’s account of his relationship with Beatrice.

Robert Hand

Robert Hand, a newspaper editor. He is dominated by the ideas and personality of Richard Rowan. Formerly in love with Bertha, he woos her again when she feels neglected by Richard. He falters when he faces the demand to accept moral responsibility.

Beatrice Justice

Beatrice Justice, Richard Rowan’s devoted and admiring friend.


Archie, the young son of Bertha and Richard Rowan.

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Critical Essays