Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Frank Algernon Cowperwood

Frank Algernon Cowperwood, the “financier,” primarily interested in acquiring a fortune. Energetic and skillful, he begins by dealing successfully in soap when he is about thirteen years old. His uncle gets him a job in a grain commission house. Cowperwood’s skill leads him into the brokerage business. He then marries Lillian Semple, the attractive widow of a business associate, five years older than he. Branching out into city railways and loans, he becomes involved with local politicians in Philadelphia. The daughter of a contractor becomes Frank’s mistress. When his speculations in municipal railways and city loans are brought to light in the turmoil following the Chicago fire of 1871, he is apprehended and sent to jail. Released in thirteen months, he rebuilds his fortune during the panic of 1873. He then decides to move to Chicago.

Lillian Semple Cowperwood

Lillian Semple Cowperwood, his wife. A beautiful, passive woman, she becomes inadequate for Cowperwood. She knows of his affair with Aileen Butler but tolerates it until he decides to go to Chicago. Then she divorces him.

Henry Worthington Cowperwood

Henry Worthington Cowperwood, Frank’s father, who began as a bank clerk, later becoming teller, head cashier, and finally president. He is forced to resign when his son becomes involved in the City Treasury scandal.

Edward Malia Butler

Edward Malia Butler, a Philadelphia contractor. For a time, Cowperwood is his financial adviser, thereby meeting his daughter Aileen. When Butler discovers, through an anonymous letter, that his daughter is Frank’s mistress, he hires detectives to trail his daughter, but he is unable to break up the affair. Through powerful political friends, he helps to ruin Cowperwood and send him to jail.

Aileen Butler

Aileen Butler,...

(The entire section is 790 words.)