Hyacinth Robinson, a self-educated bookbinder in late Victorian London, England. Growing up in poverty, Hyacinth felt the callousness and violence of capitalistic society. He is easily converted to Socialism by his mentors, Anastasius Vetch and Paul Muniment. When he learns that his mother was abandoned by his aristocratic father, he swears to die for the cause of revolution, but when he meets Princess Casamassima, she introduces him to a finer, nobler world. A changed man, he becomes incapable of assassination. When the call comes, he kills himself rather than carry out his assignment.
Princess Casamassima, an American who has married into Italian nobility. Disenchanted by her husband’s lack of concern for social injustice, she moves to England and, attended only by her companion Madame Grandoni, attempts to learn about—and if possible amend—the problems of late Victorian society. In her effort to uncover the “sufferings and passions” of the people, she employs a succession of guides: Captain Godfrey Sholto, who is soon discarded because he is too vulgar; Hyacinth Robinson, who is finally discarded because he becomes too noble; and Paul Muniment, who in turn discards her when the prince, appalled by the dishonor she is bringing to the family name, cuts off the allowance that has been letting her fund the revolutionary cause.
(The entire section is 592 words.)