Characters

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

Charles Winsor

Charles Winsor is a conventional upper-class landowner of about thirty-eight. The theft occurs in his house, and he feels the scandal reflects badly on him and his guests. He claims not to be prejudiced against Jews but instinctively sides with Dancy against De Levis.

Lady Adela Winsor

Lady Adela Winsor is Charles’s wife, a beautiful woman of around thirty-five. The fact that she has her own title, independent of her husband, shows that she comes from an aristocratic family, though she also has Jewish ancestry. She shares Charles’s view of the scandal and regrets inviting De Levis to her house.

Ferdinand De Levis

Ferdinand De Levis is a wealthy young Jewish man. At the beginning of the play, he is eager to be accepted in upper-class society and insecure about his social position. However, as the play progresses, he shows pride in his Jewish origins, finally telling Dancy: “I didn’t come because I feel Christian. I am a Jew. I will take no money – not even that which was stolen. Give it to a charity. I’m proved right.”

General Canynge

General Canynge is an astute old man of about sixty, highly respected by his friends and with a great deal of social influence. He doubts Dancy’s innocence but is prepared to help and support him anyway because he feels a sense of class loyalty. When De Levis says that he believes the thief entered his room from the balcony of the next room, he replies: “That other balcony is young Dancy’s, Mr. De Levis; a soldier and a gentleman. This is an extraordinary insinuation.”

Margaret Orme

Margaret Orme is a rather frivolous young lady of twenty-five. She does not take the scandal seriously but is loyal to Ronald Dancy because they are distantly related and come from the same social background.

Captain Ronald Dancy

Captain Ronald Dancy is a young man who has recently married and left the army. He is from an upper-class background but is relatively poor. Dancy was a brave soldier, and he finds civilian life dull and difficult. He admits that he stole the money partly because he has a reckless character and it was a challenge, saying: “Nothing in the war took quite such nerve… I rather enjoyed that evening.” Dancy considers himself a gentleman but has no scruples about stealing or lying.

Mabel Dancy

Mabel Dancy is Ronald Dancy’s young wife. She loves her husband and is completely loyal to him, though she suspects him of stealing De Levis’s money. When he has to leave England in disgrace, she does not hesitate to follow him.

Lord St. Erth

Lord St. Erth is an elderly and influential peer with sporting tastes and old-fashioned views; he is described as an “old John Bull,” a stereotypical Englishman.

Major Colford

Major Colford is a friend of Captain Dancy’s and a fellow army officer. He is consistently loyal to Dancy, refusing to believe that he is capable of theft and remaining close to him even when his guilt is beyond doubt.

Gilman

Gilman is the owner of a large grocery store. He is intensely concerned with his own respectability and is prejudiced against Jews, despite admitting that they are sober, honest and hard-working. He resents the success of many Jewish people and says he prefers his own countrymen.

Jacob Twisden

Jacob Twisden is a successful lawyer. He is sixty-eight years old and is shrewd, kindly, and generally ethical in his conduct, though he is prepared to help Dancy escape from England before he can be arrested.

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Act Summaries