Characters

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 386

The Glass Key is regarded as one of Dashiell Hammett's finest works. Here's an outline of the attributes of the characters in this story.

Ned Beaumont A gambler who fancies himself as a detective, Ned is the central protagonist, and unlike other heroes from Hammett's stories, Ned does not shy...

(The entire section contains 627 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your subscription to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Start your Subscription

The Glass Key is regarded as one of Dashiell Hammett's finest works. Here's an outline of the attributes of the characters in this story.

Ned Beaumont
A gambler who fancies himself as a detective, Ned is the central protagonist, and unlike other heroes from Hammett's stories, Ned does not shy away from a relationship with a girl. Janet is his love interest. Ned is loyal to his boss and friend, Paul Madvig, and goes out of his way to help his friend clear his name in a murder charge. He's tough and stoic along the lines of other hard-boiled private eyes, stating "I can stand anything I've got to stand".

Paul Madvig
Madvig is a crooked politician who turns a blind eye to the vices that plague the city. He's outwardly cheerful and wishes to marry Janet Henry, Senator Henry's daughter, and thus move a few rungs up the political hierarchy. He's framed for the murder of Taylor Henry, the senator's son.

Opal Madvig
Blue-eyed and with pink cheeks, Opal is Paul Madvig's daughter and the love interest of Taylor Henry. She tries to commit suicide by slitting her wrist.

Shad O’Rory
He's Madvig's rival in crime. He has Beaumont beaten up by his bodyguard Jeff after Beaumont refuses his offer to frame Paul. Of Irish stock, O'Rory is killed by Jeff.

Janet Henry
Janet is the daughter of Sen. Ralph Bancroft Henry, and the object of Paul Madvig's affections. She is repulsed by Madvig and ends up getting attracted to Beaumont. Brown-eyed and feisty, she plays a crucial role in cracking the case of her brother, Taylor Henry's, murder.

Senator Henry
Madvig's chosen candidate for the post of senator in a likely re-election, the senator is a cynical politician who is ruthless in his quest for political dominance. He epitomizes corruption and hypocrisy in the upper political echelons.

Taylor Henry
The morally decrepit son of Senator Henry, Taylor is murdered, and the murderer is revealed toward the end of the novel. He is Opal's boyfriend.

Bernie Despain
A gambler, Bernie is owed money by Taylor. Bernie, in turn, owes money to Ned. He's a suspect in the murder of Taylor Henry.

Jeff
O'Rory's bodyguard, Jeff is the archetypal slow-witted henchman who delights in dishing out punishment for his boss. He administers a severe beating to Beaumont, and strangles O'Rory to death.

Characters Discussed

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 241

Ned Beaumont

Ned Beaumont, a tall, lean, narrow-eyed, mustached, cigar-smoking gambler and amateur detective. He finds Taylor Henry’s body, collects the money Bernie owes him, is tortured by O’Rory, disbelieves Madvig’s confession, witnesses O’Rory’s murder, receives Senator Henry’s confession, and gets Janet.

Paul Madvig

Paul Madvig, his blond, heavy-set, ruddily handsome friend and the city’s political boss, in love with Janet. Though innocent, he confesses to Taylor’s murder.

Senator Henry

Senator Henry, Madvig’s distinguished, patrician-faced candidate for reelection; he is the real murderer of his son, Taylor, who is killed during a violent quarrel.

Janet Henry

Janet Henry, his brown-eyed daughter, who hates Madvig and falls in love with Ned.

Shad O’Rory

Shad O’Rory, Madvig’s rival, a gangster and ward boss who has Ned brutally beaten for refusing to help frame Paul. He is killed by Jeff.

Opal Madvig

Opal Madvig, Madvig’s blue-eyed, pink-skinned daughter, who had been meeting Taylor secretly. She attempts suicide.

Bernie Despain

Bernie Despain, a gambler Ned suspects of having murdered Taylor. He owes Ned money, which he finally pays.

Taylor Henry

Taylor Henry, Senator Henry’s son, found dead in the street.

Jack Rumsen

Jack Rumsen, a private detective hired by Ned to trail Bernie.

Michael Joseph Farr

Michael Joseph Farr, the district attorney, stout, florid, and pugnacious.

Jeff

Jeff, O’Rory’s apish bodyguard, who beats Ned and later strangles O’Rory.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Glass Key Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Summary

Next

Themes