(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed


Maurice, a young Parisian playwright. Assured that his play will be a success, he promises to marry Jeanne, his mistress. She gives him a tie and gloves to wear on the opening night. That afternoon, he meets Henriette, the mistress of his friend Adolphe. Although he is falling in love, he has a presentiment of evil. His play is a triumph, but Maurice, instead of going to the celebration party, meets Henriette, who declares her love and throws Jeanne’s gifts into the fire. Planning to flee with Henriette, Maurice visits his daughter Marion. After his visit, the child is found dead, and he and Henriette are arrested for murder. They are released for lack of evidence, but Maurice’s career is ruined. He and Henriette, now hating each other, separate. After his exoneration, he regains popularity, and he and Jeanne are reunited.


Jeanne, Maurice’s mistress, whom he deserts for Henriette but to whom he returns.


Marion, their young daughter. Maurice is suspected of her murder, but she had died of a rare disease.


Henriette, the mistress of Adolphe and later of Maurice. She has assisted in a fatal abortion and has turned to wantonness through dread of her past. She breaks with Maurice and returns to her home.


Adolphe, a painter and Henriette’s lover.

The abbé

The abbé, who brings Maurice to penitence.


Emile, Jeanne’s brother.

Madame Catherine

Madame Catherine, the proprietor of the crêmerie where Maurice first meets Henriette.