Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Aubrey Tanqueray

Aubrey Tanqueray, a wealthy English widower. He is resolved to marry a second time, to a young woman from a lower class. The marriage is disappointing, because he finds the young wife’s boredom perplexing and her humor and cynicism embarrassing. He finally learns that his young wife has been his daughter’s suitor’s mistress.

Paula Ray Tanqueray

Paula Ray Tanqueray, a younger woman of somewhat questionable character, loved by Aubrey. She is unsure of herself but glib. After her marriage, she finds she is bored and lonely in the country. She intercepts a letter from Ellean Tanqueray to her father, is discovered, and promises to try to be a better wife. When she learns that her former lover is her stepdaughter’s suitor and that she stands in the way of her stepdaughter’s marriage, she commits suicide.

Ellean Tanqueray

Ellean Tanqueray, Aubrey’s teenage daughter by his first wife. She is highly religious and considers becoming a nun. When she thinks her mother’s spirit has told her to do so, she returns home for a time. She falls in love with an army officer who proves to have been her stepmother’s former lover.

Captain Hugh Ardale

Captain Hugh Ardale, an army officer who courts Ellean and wins her love. His marriage to her is delayed, however, because he was at one time Ellean’s stepmother’s lover.

Cayley Drummle

Cayley Drummle, Aubrey’s good friend, who tries to counsel him against a marriage with a woman from a lower class.

Mrs. Alice Cortelyou

Mrs. Alice Cortelyou, Aubrey’s longtime friend and neighbor, the first of his set to call after his marriage to Paula Ray.

Sir George

Sir George and

Lady Orreyed

Lady Orreyed, friends of Paula Ray before her marriage. She invites them to the Tanqueray home after the marriage, despite her husband’s objections. They prove to be coarse, boorish, and even insulting to guests.

Mrs. Tanqueray

Mrs. Tanqueray, Aubrey’s dead wife, who had not made her husband happy. When she died of a fever, one of Aubrey’s friends observed that it was the only warmth ever to have come to the woman’s body.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Downer, Alan S. The British Drama: A Handbook and Brief Chronicle. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1950. Examines works by Arthur Wing Pinero; also examines his life. Sees Pinero as a Victorian playwright with notable and innovative ideas.

Fyfe, Henry Hamilton. Sir Arthur Pinero’s Plays and Players. New York: Macmillan, 1930. Examines the motivations of Paula Tanqueray and other key players. Also discusses the play’s plot, dialogue, and setting. Good for a comparison of Pinero’s other characters and dramatic works.

Grove, Arnold. “The Future of the English Drama.” In The Renascence of the English Drama: Essays, Lectures, and Fragments Relating to the Modern English Stage, Written and Delivered in the Years 1883-94, edited by Henry Arthur Jones. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971. Claims dramatic works such as Pinero’s can never record true realism such as pain, suffering, and disease.

Knight, G. Wilson. The Golden Labyrinth: A Study of British Drama. New York: W. W. Norton, 1962. Believes that Pinero handled sexual irregularities in man and woman with honesty in The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. Also claims Pinero was bound up in technicalities in a play, which he seemed to manage well. Places Pinero in context of other playwrights.

Salerno, Henry F. Introduction to The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. English Drama in Transition: 1880-1920. New York: Pegasus, 1968. Quite helpful as a critical analysis. Places dramatic work into context of the times as well as Pinero’s interests when he wrote it.