Nancy Drew Series Characters
by Carolyn Keene

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Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

As in most detective stories, the central theme of the Nancy Drew mysteries is the struggle between good and evil, honesty and criminality, justice and injustice. In addition, these books consistently emphasize humility, self-reliance, the necessity of following one's conscience, respect for legitimate authority, and consideration for those less fortunate. Snobbish, stingy, cowardly, or dishonest behavior is treated as intolerable.

Throughout the series, the main character is Nancy Drew, who in the first book (1930) is described as sixteen years old, although in 1953 her age changed to eighteen. Nancy is extremely attractive, with "intelligent blue eyes," golden blond (later reddish blond and finally titian) hair, a "slender" figure, clear complexion, and a pretty face.

Typically she considers others before herself, and her chief concern is the welfare of the innocent. From the earliest book she possesses intuition, initiative, independence, courage, persistence, tact, and a real delight in mysteries and their solution. In the very early books Nancy seems slightly tomboyish, but she is always somewhat interested in clothes, and gradually she comes to represent a balance between her ladylike friend Bess and the tomboyish George.

In all the mysteries Nancy relies to some extent upon the advice and assistance of her father, Carson Drew, who is described as a tall, handsome, muscular, and active-looking man of middle age with alert blue eyes like those of his daughter. A widower since Nancy was three years old, Mr. Drew is a "well-todo" and "well-known lawyer who often handled criminal cases," and his varied professional contacts frequently provide the information and support Nancy needs to resolve her cases.

Another member of the Drew household is Mrs. Hannah Gruen, who has been the Drews' housekeeper since the death of Nancy's mother and is considered one of the family. In the earliest books Hannah seems relatively unimportant, but eventually this kindly, efficient, plump, and motherly woman not only worries about Nancy and cautions her to be careful, but even helps her solve some of her cases.

Assisting Nancy with most of her cases are her closest friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne. The conventional, ladylike member of the trio, Bess is described as "blond-haired, blue-eyed, and pretty though slightly overweight." Bess loves food and frequently interrupts Nancy's pursuit of clues to remind her that it is mealtime. Of the three friends, "mild-mannered" Bess is the most likely to be frightened in dangerous situations, but she manages to...

(The entire section is 615 words.)