Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 438
Trilby O’Ferrall, a Scotch-Irish artist’s model. Very tall, well developed, and graceful, she lacks classical beauty, having freckles, a large mouth, and eyes set too wide apart, but she has a simple, amiable charm and astonishingly beautiful feet. She sings wretchedly except when hypnotized by Svengali, under whose spell she comes after going out of Little Billee’s life. Traveling with Svengali as his wife, she attains fame as a singer. After his death, she wastes away and dies.
Svengali (svehn-GAH-lee), a middle-aged Jewish musician from Austria, tall and bony, with long, heavy black hair; brilliant black eyes; a thin, sallow face; and black beard and mustache. Conceited, derisive, and malicious, he alternately bullies and fawns in a harsh, croaking voice. He is a dedicated and expert player of popular and light classical music. Although Trilby is repelled at first by his greasy, dirty appearance and regards him as a spidery demon or incubus, she becomes completely his creature under his hypnosis.
Talbot “Taffy” Wynne
Talbot “Taffy” Wynne, an art student and former soldier, a Yorkshireman, handsome, fair, blue-eyed, big, and brawny. He wears a heavy mustache and drooping auburn whiskers.
Sandy McAllister, called “The Laird of Cockpen,” another art student, a burly Scotsman who becomes a noted artist.
William Bagot, called Little Billee, an art student, a Londoner, much younger than his friends Taffy and Sandy, whom he idolizes. Small, slender, black-haired, blue-eyed, and delicate-featured, he is graceful and well built and dresses much better than his friends. He is also innocent of the world and its wickedness. Infatuated with Trilby, he is shocked at her posing nude, and he becomes hysterical and very ill following her disappearance after her promise to his mother. Although he recovers after a fashion, there is a return of his severe illness following Trilby’s pathetic death several years later. Little Billee himself dies shortly afterward.
Gecko, a young fiddler, small, swarthy, shabby, brown-eyed, and pock-marked. Although he loves Trilby, he helps Svengali train her to sing so that Svengali may exploit her.
Mrs. Bagot, Little Billee’s mother, who persuades Trilby not to marry her son.
Alice, a parson’s pretty daughter with whom Little Billee falls in and out of love.
Gontran (Zouzou), soldier friends of Taffy, Sandy, Little Billee, and Trilby.
Jeannot, Trilby’s young brother, whose death deeply saddens her.
Marta, Svengali’s aunt, a fat, elderly woman, grotesque looking but kind to Trilby.
Blanche Bagot, Little Billee’s sister, who marries Taffy.
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