Gargantua and Pantagruel

by François Rabelais

Start Free Trial

Characters Discussed

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share


Gargantua (gahr-GAHN-tew-ah), an affable prince, a giant—as an infant, more than two thousand ells of cloth are required to clothe him—who has many adventures. He travels over Europe and other parts of the world, fighting wars from which all prisoners are set free, straightening out disputes in other kingdoms, and helping his friends achieve their goals.


Pantagruel (PAHN-tah-grewl), Gargantua’s giant son, who once got an arm out of his swaddling clothes and ate the cow that was nursing him. Pantagruel was born when his father was four hundred years old. Accepting with good nature the responsibility of aiding the oppressed, he spends a good deal of his time traveling the earth with his companion Panurge. In their travels, they visit a land where all citizens have noses shaped like the ace of clubs and a country in which the people eat and drink nothing but air.


Panurge (PAHN-urzh), a beggar and Pantagruel’s companion, who knows sixty-three ways to make money and two hundred fourteen ways to spend it. He speaks twelve known and unknown tongues, but he does not know whether he should marry. Finally, he decides to consult the Oracle of the Sacred Bottle to find the answer to his question. The trip to the island of the Sacred Bottle is filled with adventures for Panurge and Pantagruel. The oracle, when finally consulted, utters one word, “trinc.” Panurge takes this pronouncement, translated as “drink,” to mean that he should marry.

Friar John of the Funnels

Friar John of the Funnels, a lecherous, lusty monk who fights well for Gargantua when the latter finds himself at war with King Picrochole of Lerne. To reward the friar for his gallantry, Gargantua orders workers to build the Abbey of Thélème, which has been Friar John’s dream. There, men and women live together and work to accumulate wealth.


Grandgousier (grahnd-gew-SYAY), the giant king who is Gargantua’s father.


Gargamelle (GAHR-gah-mehl), Gargantua’s mother, who, taken suddenly in labor, bears Gargantua from her left ear.


Picrochole (PEEK-roh-shohl), king of Lerne, who invades Grandgousier’s country. His army is repulsed by Gargantua with the aid of Friar John and other loyal helpers. The prisoners captured are all allowed to go free.


Anarchus (ahn-AHRK-uhs), king of Dipsody, who invades the land of the Amaurots. His army is overcome by Pantagruel, who makes the king a crier of green sauce.


Bacbuc, the priestess who conducts Panurge to the Sacred Bottle and translates the Oracle’s message for him.


Ponocrates (poh-noh-KRAY-teez), Gargantua’s teacher in Paris.


Holofernes (HOH-loh-furnz) and

Joberlin Bridé

Joberlin Bridé (zhoh-behr-LIHN bree-DAY), Gargantua’s first teachers.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access