A Modern Comedy

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1034

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Characters Discussed

The White Monkey, 1924

Fleur Forsyte Mont

Fleur Forsyte Mont, the wife of Michael Mont and daughter of Soames Forsyte. Fleur marries Michael after her romance with Jon Forsyte, her second cousin, is stopped by his parents. She has a son, by Michael, named Christopher. Fleur makes her home into a center for writers and artists. Her passion for collecting experiences almost leads her to an affair with Michael’s best friend, Wilfrid Desert.

Michael Mont

Michael Mont, the son of a baronet and a veteran of World War I. He falls in love with Fleur and marries her after her romance with Jon Forsyte ends. He works for a publishing house. He publishes two books of poetry by his best friend, Wilfrid Desert, and befriends an employee named Tony Bicket, who was fired for stealing.

Soames Forsyte

Soames Forsyte, a solicitor and art collector. He is a member of the board of an insurance company and exposes the general manager’s illegal activities. His efforts, however, make him unpopular with the other board members and the stockholders, so he resigns. He then decides to retire from his legal practice and business affairs. He buys balloons from Bicket.

Tony Bicket

Tony Bicket, a member of the working class and husband of Victorine. He steals books from his employer to buy food and medicine for his wife, whose health is poor. He is caught and fired. He then tries to sell balloons for a living. After her health improves, Victorine earns enough money as an artist’s model to pay their passage to Australia. Their marriage nearly comes apart after Bicket learns that his wife has been posing in the nude.

Wilfrid Desert

Wilfrid Desert, a poet, member of the aristocracy, and veteran of World War I. He met Michael in a hospital during the war. When Michael publishes one of Wilfrid’s books of verse, it is a commercial and critical success. Wilfrid serves as best man at Michael’s marriage to Fleur. Unfortunately, he falls in love with Fleur. He is unable to seduce her away from Michael. He then leaves England for the East.

The Silver Spoon, 1926

Fleur Forsyte Mont

Fleur Forsyte Mont, whose attempts to help Michael’s political career by becoming a political hostess backfire when her father offends Marjorie Ferrar and her family. Fleur makes the situation worse by writing nasty letters about Marjorie to mutual friends. The dispute leads to a civil trial for libel.

Michael Mont

Michael Mont, who is now a member of the British Parliament. He campaigns for the revival of agriculture and emigration to solve problems of excess population. He is a disciple of Foggartism, a fringe political movement. His main opponent in the House of Commons is the fiancée of Marjorie Ferrar. Michael’s attempt to help three unemployed men by starting a farm on his family’s estate ends disastrously when one of the men commits suicide.

Soames Forsyte

Soames Forsyte, who is now retired from both his law practice and business affairs. He overhears Marjorie Ferrar making insulting remarks about Fleur. He challenges Marjorie in public and becomes one of the targets of a libel suit brought by her father. He makes the situation even worse by complaining to the editor of a newspaper that runs Marjorie’s gossip column.

Marjorie Ferrar

Marjorie Ferrar, a member of the aristocracy, an actress, and an artist. Her affiliation with the avant-garde and hedonistic movements of the time give her a certain notoriety in English society. Marjorie is an exponent of free love, although her own practice is far less scandalous. In the libel trial, she is forced to defend her bohemian lifestyle. Her admissions destroy her engagement to a wealthy member of the British Parliament.

Francis Wilmot

Francis Wilmot, the American brother-in-law of Jon Forsyte. During a vacation in London, he witnesses the dispute between Marjorie and Soames. He falls in love with Marjorie but becomes gravely ill. Fleur nurses him back to health, and he returns to America, heartbroken.

Two Forsyte Interludes, 1927

Jon Forsyte

Jon Forsyte, the former lover and second cousin of Fleur Forsyte. In “A Silent Wooing” (1925), after his parents break off their romance and his father dies, he journeys with his mother to Canada and the United States to try his hand at farming. While staying at a resort in Camden, South Carolina, he goes riding with some Americans. Two of his companions are Francis and Anne Wilmot, brother and sister. Jon and Anne ride off by themselves. They become lost and spend several hours alone together. The following day, Jon travels to the Wilmot plantation. By the end of his visit, he falls in love with Anne and discovers that she feels the same about him.

Soames Forsyte

Soames Forsyte, the former husband of Irene Heron. In “Passers By” (1928), during a trip around the world with Fleur, he visits the Rock Creek cemetery in Washington, D.C. His purpose is to enjoy the Saint Gaudens statue. His appreciation is interrupted, however, when Jon Forsyte and his new wife also visit the cemetery. Soames manages to avoid them but discovers that they and Jon’s mother, Irene Heron Forsyte, are staying in the same hotel as are Soames and Fleur. They have another near encounter at Mount Vernon, but Soames feigns illness to cut the tour short. He arranges for himself and Fleur to leave the city without a confrontation.

Swan Song, 1928

Fleur Forsyte Mont

Fleur Forsyte Mont, who runs a canteen during the General Strike of 1926, during which she sees Jon Forsyte for the first time in several years. Fleur eventually seduces Jon, but her triumph is short-lived; he returns to his wife. She is distraught over the failure of her scheme to get Jon back. Her carelessness with a cigarette causes a fire in her father’s house, and the fire causes her father’s death.

Jon Forsyte

Jon Forsyte, Fleur’s second cousin and now the husband of Anne Wilmot. After marrying Anne, an American woman from South Carolina, he returns to England to farm. Following a brief affair with Fleur, he returns to his pregnant wife and vows never to see Fleur again.


Critical Essays