Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 339
D’Albert is a romantic young Frenchman who longs for an ideal lover. At age 22, he considers himself worldly and sophisticated, and his good looks and high status make him appealing to women. D’Albert becomes romantically involved with Rosette, but he considers their relationship to be casual. He then develops a crush on a young man, Théodore. His suspicions that Théodore is a disguised woman are later confirmed, but he must acknowledge his strong attraction to the male person. He also has a one-night liaison with Madelaine (the real woman who pretends to be Théodore), before she and her male alter ego leave.
Rosette is the lovely, charming, witty young woman who becomes d’Albert’s mistress. While they are sexually compatible, he dismisses her as emotionally incompatible. The plot complication revolves around her also falling in love with Théodore.
Madelaine de Maupin/Théodore de Sérannes:
Madelaine de Maupin and Théodore de Sérannes are actually two aspects of the same person. In reality, a clever, lovely young woman called Madelaine decides to disguise herself as a handsome young man in an effort to understand men, as she cannot figure out what makes them tick. While so disguised, her observations give her an overall negative view of the arrogance of male character. During part of the novel, she appears as Rosalind in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It for a theatrical production that the group stages. After she sleeps with d’Albert in what he considers one perfect night of love, she concludes that her bisexual inclinations do not allow her to be with him, and she leaves town the next day. In a letter, she encourages Rosette and d’Albert to get together and take their relationship seriously.
De C———, another urbane sophisticate, is d’Albert’s friend; he introduces him to Rosette.
Isnabel is a young woman who also disguises herself as a young man to serve as Théodore’s page.