Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 434
Arthur Kipps, a simple soul who knows that there was something mysterious about his birth. Reared by an aunt and uncle, he spends a bleak childhood. After seven years of apprenticeship to a draper, he is given a position in the firm at twenty pounds a year. As a boy, he falls in love with Ann Pornick, a poor girl who goes into domestic service; later, he is enamored of a lady who teaches woodcarving in a class he attends for self-improvement. His life is radically changed when he is left a legacy of a handsome house and twelve hundred pounds a year by his paternal grandfather, who relented before his death, though he had forbidden his son to marry Kipps’ mother. At once, the bewildered Kipps is petitioned by everyone for money. He buys an interest in a friend’s play and is maneuvered into becoming engaged to the woodcarving teacher, who tries to change him completely and gets him to give her brother control of his money. Kipps meets his childhood sweetheart again and begins to yearn for a simpler life. They marry, and his wife is at first made unhappy by their pretentions to grandeur. His former fiancée’s brother loses most of his money, however, and Kipps’ now comfortable but necessarily simple life is thoroughly happy. Even after he becomes almost as rich as before with the success of his friend’s play, he continues to live simply and happily.
Ann Pornick, Kipps’ first love and later his wife. Seeing her as a servant in a house where he is a guest, Kipps proposes; in spite of her apprehension over the difference in their social positions, she accepts.
Helen Walsingham, a lady of whom Kipps becomes enamored. Engaged to him after his acquisition of wealth, she attempts to change his speech, dress, manners, and attitudes. Grateful at first, he becomes gloomy. Her solicitor brother speculates with Kipps’ money and loses most of it.
Mr. Chitterlow, Kipps’ friend, a would-be playwright. Because of Chitterlow’s influence, Kipps gets drunk and stays out all night, for which he loses his job; shortly afterward, however, Kipps gets his fortune. He buys a quarter interest in Chitterlow’s play, which later restores his fortune almost to its original amount.
Pornick, Ann’s brother. A socialist, he is both contemptuous and jealous of Kipps’ new wealth, and so he does not tell Ann of Kipps’ fortune. Therefore, when Ann first sees Kipps again, her naturalness and simplicity make him yearn for the old, uncomplicated life.
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