Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 331

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Joseph Vance

Joseph Vance, an honest Englishman who helps his friends and suffers sometimes for his goodness. Even his love is denied because he refuses to hurt the woman he loves by telling her that her own brother’s rascality is what has put Joseph himself in a bad light.

Mr. Christopher Vance

Mr. Christopher Vance, Joseph’s prodigal father. A drunkard, he is one of his son’s greatest problems. He almost bankrupts himself because, while drunk, he causes a fire in the building housing his business.

Mrs. Vance

Mrs. Vance, Christopher’s first wife, Joseph’s mother. She dies shortly after Joseph graduates from Oxford.

Dr. Randall Thorpe

Dr. Randall Thorpe, Joseph’s benefactor. It is he who sends Joseph to Oxford.

Lossie Thorpe

Lossie Thorpe, Dr. Thorpe’s oldest child, loved by Joseph. Eventually, she and Joseph spend their last days together in Italy.

Joe (Beppino) Thorpe

Joe (Beppino) Thorpe, Dr. Thorpe’s son. He is a bigamist, in one marriage using Joseph Vance’s name. His son by that marriage is adopted by Joseph, whose action causes Lossie to turn against him, for she thinks he is the child’s real father. Beppino is a would-be poet. He dies of typhoid fever.

Violet Thorpe

Violet Thorpe, Lossie’s sister.

Nolly Thorpe

Nolly Thorpe, Lossie’s other brother.

General Desprez

General Desprez, a wealthy army officer, Lossie’s husband. He dies before he can clear Joseph of the charges of which his wife thinks Joseph guilty.


Pheener, the Christopher Vances’ maid. After her mistress’ death, she marries Christopher.

Bony Macallister

Bony Macallister, Joseph’s school friend. Later, he and Joseph become business partners in an engineering firm.

Janey Spencer

Janey Spencer, Joseph’s wife. She loves him dearly and is drowned when she refuses to go into a lifeboat from a sinking ship after choosing to try to swim to shore with her husband.

Sibyl Perceval

Sibyl Perceval, an heiress who marries Beppino shortly before his death.