Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 352
Althorpe: Althorpe, the narrator, is a young man who is in love with Constantia, a woman visiting his uncle's home with her father. Althorpe, a nephew rather than a son in the household, habitually has to repress his feelings and behave submissively. He falls in love with Constantia, or thinks he does: she asserts to her father that she is simply the first attractive woman who has fallen across his path and that he will soon forget her. Althorpe seems to act on his repressed and irrational desire to possess her and then to harm her for "leaving" him, both by her departing suddenly from his home and by planning to marry another. He is an unstable, split character who has so shut the "gate" on his aggressive impulses so that he is cut off from them.
Constantia Davis: A strong, assertive woman, Constantia is engaged and soon plans to marry. She likes Althorpe, but doesn't requite his love. She would be happy to keep him as a friend, as she tells her father, and visit with him once she is married. She characterizes Althorpe as an immature young man likely to keep getting into "mischief." Constantia presents as sensible and knowing her own mind.
Mr. Davis: Mr. Davis is Constantia's father, a sensible, down-to-earth man. He has a higher opinion of Althorpe than does his daughter. Davis makes one fatal mistake in leaving Constantia alone for a few minutes in the woods.
The uncle: Althorpe lives with his uncle in a comfortable home. He seems unwilling to cross this uncle to whom he owes "obedience," but the uncle comes across as a reasonable person. However, he inexplicably fails to warn the Davises about Nick Handyside.
The man who approaches the chaise: He is mild-mannered and "inquisitive." We get no description of him, but it is he who tells the Davises about Nick Handyside, a mentally handicapped man he describes as harmless.
Nick Handyside: He is the local "idiot" who enjoys scaring people with his appearance and howling, but who is fundamentally not a threat. We are told he is easily frightened.
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