(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Constance van der Welcke

Constance van der Welcke, a daughter of the respectable van Lowe family. After several years of a loveless marriage to the respectable Dutch envoy at Rome, she has an affair with Henri van der Welcke, whom she marries after divorcing her husband. After twenty years away, she returns to Holland with her second husband, hoping that time will have healed the scars caused by the old scandal. In spite of the outward appearances of forgiveness, Constance becomes aware that she is still condemned by a society of small souls quick to criticize others while engaged, itself, in an interplay of gossip, scandal, and fear.

Henri van der Welcke

Henri van der Welcke, Constance van der Welcke’s second husband. His political career ruined by his affair with and marriage to Constance, he returns with her to Holland and the condemnation of Dutch society.

Adriaan (Addie)

Adriaan (Addie), Constance and Henri van der Welcke’s thirteen-year-old son. Disturbed by the shreds of gossip he hears about his family, he becomes so melancholy that his father tells him the story of the scandal of his parents’ marriage. Addie accepts the truth in a mature fashion that marks the end of his childhood.

Mrs. van Lowe

Mrs. van Lowe, Constance van der Welcke’s mother.

Bertha van Voorde

Bertha van Voorde, Constance’s socially prominent sister, through whose influence she hopes to become accepted in higher circles.

Van Naghel van Voorde

Van Naghel van Voorde, Bertha van Voorde’s husband, who refuses to accept Constance and Henri van der Welcke.


Adolphine, Constance’s petty and envious sister.


Jaap, Adolphine’s young son, who taunts Addie about his parents.

Gerrit van Lowe

Gerrit van Lowe,

Paul van Lowe

Paul van Lowe, and

Karel van Lowe

Karel van Lowe, Constance van der Welcke’s brothers.

Cateau van Lowe

Cateau van Lowe, Karel van Lowe’s wife.

Van Vreeswijck

Van Vreeswijck, Henri van der Welcke’s friend.