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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 257

The main characters in My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante are Elena Greco and Lila Cerrulo, also called Lina or Raffaella.

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Elena and Lina grow up together and although they are close friends, they are very different. Elena is the narrator of the novel and she is studious, intelligent, and cautious. Lila is a foil for Elena, being impulsive and naturally clever. She often gets Elena to do things for her because of her manipulative and charismatic nature.

Fernando and Nunzia Cerullo are Lila's parents. Fernando is a shoemaker and a strict parent. Lila's brother is named Rino, and so is her son who she gives birth to later in the novel. Lila's son Rino is the one who calls Elena at the beginning of the novel to tell her that Lila has gone missing.

As a teenager, Lila is courted by Marcello Solara, a boy who comes from a rich and influential family. At sixteen she instead marries Stefano Carracci but is unhappy with the marriage from the start.

Elena's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Greco. Elena has a close but tumultuous relationship with her mother, although usually she receives support for her decisions from her mother.

There are many many characters in My Brilliant Friend and they are often hard to keep track of. The two most important characters are Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo, and one writing about the characters of this novel should definitely focus on the relationship between Elena and Lila, and how the events with other characters eventually shaped that relationship.

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