Characters Discussed

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Gil Blas of Santillane

Gil Blas of Santillane (heel blahs, sahn-tee-YAHN), a rogue who serves a series of masters and finally ends up a country gentleman.

Blas of Santillane

Blas of Santillane, his father, married to an elderly chambermaid.

Gil Pérez

Gil Pérez (PEH-rehs), Gil’s uncle, a fat canon who gives Gil forty pistoles and a donkey and sends him to the University of Salamanca.


Antonia (ahn-TOH-nyah), a farmer’s daughter who becomes Gil’s wife. She and their baby daughter die.


Dorothea (doh-roh-TEH-ah), Gil’s second wife, with whom he spends his remaining days in Lirias on an estate given him by Don Alfonso.


Scipio (SKEE-pee-oh), Gil’s servant, who tries to arrange a marriage with the rich daughter of a goldsmith, an effort ruined by Gil’s arrest.

Captain Rolando

Captain Rolando (rroh-LAHN-doh), a leader of robbers who capture Gil on his way to Salamanca.

Donna Mencia

Donna Mencia (MEHN-see-ah), a prisoner of the robbers who is rescued by Gil.


Fabricio (fah-BREE-see-oh), Gil’s schoolmate, who advises him to go into service.

Doctor Sangrado

Doctor Sangrado (sahn-GRAH-doh), one of Gil’s masters, whose universal remedy is bleedings.

Don Matthias

Don Matthias (maht-TEE-ahs), another master, whose fashionable clothes Gil borrows to impress a “fine lady.” She turns out to be a serving maid.


Arsenia (ahr-SEHN-ee-ah), an actress who employs Gil for a short time after Don Matthias is killed in a duel.


Aurora (ow-ROH-rah), a virtuous woman whose love affair with Lewis is furthered by Gil.


Lewis, a college student desired by Aurora. They eventually marry.

Don Alphonso

Don Alphonso (ahl-FOHN-soh), whom Gil gets appointed governor of Valencia.

The Archbishop

The Archbishop, who angrily discharges Gil for criticizing his sermons.

The Duke of Lerma

The Duke of Lerma, the prime minister, whom Gil serves as a confidential agent.

Count Olivarez

Count Olivarez (oh-lee-VAHR-ehs), the new prime minister, who tries unsuccessfully to keep Gil at court.


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Alter, Robert. Rogue’s Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel.Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964. One of the better-known works on the picaresque novel. Discusses the variety of the genre. Contains an extended discussion of Gil Blas.

Bjornson, Richard. The Picaresque Hero in European Fiction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977. Includes a thorough treatment of Gil Blas as the epitome of the genre in French. Traces the history of the picaresque from its conception in Spain to the books of Tobias Smollett.

Blackburn, Alexander. The Myth of the Picaro. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. Considered the one of two definitive experts on the picaresque, Blackburn traces the recurrence of the genre from 1554 to 1954.

Chandler, Frank Wadleigh. The Literature of Roguery. New York: Burt Franklin, 1958. Although dated, this work is a thorough examination of the picaresque genre.

Monteser, Frederick. The Picaresque Element in Western Literature. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1975. A study of the history and evolution of the picaresque. Through examination of a variety of examples, the author attempts to locate important elements.

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