Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Gilberte (zheel-BEHRT), known as Gigi (zhee-ZHEE), a charming fifteen-year-old girl who is being educated by her great-aunt and her grandmother to become a successful courtesan. Gigi has the legs and feet of a ballet dancer: heronlike legs, with high-arched insteps, perfect oval-shaped kneecaps, and slender calves. Her eyes are dark blue, and her hair of ash-blonde ringlets has magnificent fullness. She looks like Robin Hood, a carved angel, or a boy in skirts; she least resembles a nearly grown girl. She dresses in typical French schoolgirl fashion, wearing a serge coat and blue sailor hat. Her nature is both gentle and independent. She is playful and irreverent, traits that charm Gaston, the thirty-three-year-old millionaire who at first sees her as an enchanting child and who later decides that he wants her as his mistress. She, however, has her own ideas about what she wants to do with her life. She does not want to be a typical courtesan who will please a man for a while and be discarded for the next woman, nor does she want to become the dull wife of a boring clerk. She wants to marry the kind of man who will love her forever and treat her in the lavish, glamorous way a man is expected to treat only his mistress, never his wife.

Madame Inez Alvarez

Madame Inez Alvarez (ee-NEHS AHL-vah-rehs), Gigi’s grandmother, who is in charge of rearing her. She took the name of a Spanish lover, now dead, and calls herself Inez. She has a heavy Spanish face and resembles the nineteenth century writer...

(The entire section is 683 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Gigi is a simple, direct, piquantly provocative girl-woman, a lily in a garden of weeds, a moral exception to her immoral environment. Her youthful exuberance and innocence contrast sharply with the jaded, cynical worldliness of the older generations. Her coltish energy and unmeditated impertinence smash the carefully arranged furnishings of an artificial, febrile, fin de siecle society. She is a seductive, singular wonder, perhaps too marvelous to be believed by experienced readers, but nevertheless a charming princess for Colette’s fantasy.

The two elderly sisters are carefully differentiated. Madame Alvarez dotes on Gigi and means to do her best for her granddaughter. She is invariably courteous, kind, firm, and correct. Her older sister, Alicia, once a great beauty, has been the more successful courtesan, and possibly the more cunning as well. Described as “the perfect stage marquise,” she is more awesome than lovable. Colette reserves for Alicia the role of pedagogue in a lecture regarding the distinctions between bearable and unbearable jewelry. Together, the sisters comprise a formidably expert brace of amoral deities.

Gaston joins Colette’s long list of slightly ridiculous, manipulable lovers. He is sketched rather than fully portrayed and is immature, weak, and far from bright. Andree, Gigi’s mother, is remarkably uninvolved in the planning of her daughter’s future.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Only five characters actually appear in the novella, Gigi, and one or two others receive brief mention. Gilberte Alvarez, called Gigi,...

(The entire section is 432 words.)