Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 253
The characters of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are rich and diverse. One of the two title characters, Gilbert Norrell, is a wealthy man who collects all of the books of magic he can and proves to be a talented magician who uses his abilities for good. He takes Jonathan Strange, another magician, under his wing. Strange and Norrell hold opposite views about magic, and Strange’s attraction to the darker side of magic proves to be his downfall.
Mr. Norrell asks the “gentleman with thistle-down hair,” a fairy, to help him bring Emma Wintertowne back from the dead, and he complies. This gives the gentleman with thistle-down hair access to the human world, and he uses this access to wreak havoc, including kidnapping Strange’s wife, Arabella, and leading Strange to believe she is dead.
Emma Wintertowne marries Sir Walter Pole, becoming Lady Pole, as she was supposed to before she died. Under the agreement between Norrell and the gentleman with thistle-down hair, she must spend half her life with the fairy gentleman, and he decides it will be nighttime. Each night she is brought to the fairy world to dance with Stephen Black, Sir Walter Pole’s butler. Black has been promised that he will become a king and that Lady Pole will be his queen.
John Uskglass, also known as the Raven King, was a human child raised by fairies, and he used this experience to bring magic to England. Norrell doesn’t like him, while Strange is somewhat enamored.
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