The Virgin and the Gipsy

by D. H. Lawrence

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The characters of The Virgin and the Gipsy are:

The rector: The rector is portrayed as a wronged husband on the surface. However, his worship of his former wife betrays his struggle with a faith tradition that minimizes human sexual nature. As a religious authority figure, he believes that he must hide his true inclinations from the prying eyes of society. However, his well-worn facade destroys his relationship with his wife and daughters.

She-Who-Was-Cynthia: Cynthia is the rector's former wife. In the story, she leaves him for a young, penniless lover. Cynthia is compared to a white snow flower throughout the story. She epitomizes innocence, vivacity, and sensuality. Her former husband, the rector, worships her innocence but struggles to accept her sensual nature.

Yvette Saywell: Yvette is the rector's youngest daughter. She is the image of her mother, Cynthia. In the story, she struggles to reconcile her sensual nature with social convention and familial expectations. On the one hand, she craves the consummation of her sexual desires. Yet, she fears that doing so will banish her to the outskirts of polite society, a fate already experienced by her mother, Cynthia.

Lucille Saywell: Lucille is the rector's eldest daughter. Like Yvette, Lucille despises Granny and harbors contempt for Aunt Cissie. She navigates life in her dysfunctional household by having affairs with virile young men.

Granny (The Mater): Granny is a central character in the story. She is cunning, manipulative, and self-righteous. In the story, she wields a strong emotional hold over her son (the rector) and her daughter (Aunt Cissie). Granny manipulates their insecurities to entrench herself as the central figure of the household.

Aunt Cissie: Aunt Cissie is Granny's daughter. She is bitterly angry that her life has been held hostage by her filial responsibilities. In the story, she shows open disdain and hatred for her nieces, who remind her of Cynthia (her former sister-in-law). For her part, Cynthia is a woman fully awakened to her sensuality, an experience Aunt Cissie will seemingly never realize in her current circumstances.

Uncle Fred: Uncle Fred is Granny's son. He is a lethargic character who contributes little to the household. In the story, he is said to go into town every day. When he is at home, he plays crossword puzzles with Granny and his brother, the rector.

Joe Boswell (the "gipsy"): This is Yvette's lover and secret suitor. Although he is married, he lusts after Yvette's fresh beauty. In the story, he saves Yvette from drowning after the river overflows its banks.

The Fortune Teller: The fortune teller is Joe's wife. In the story, she tells Yvette that the latter is loved by a "dark man" and that he will replenish her zest for life.

Mrs. Fawcett: Mrs. Fawcett is a Jewess who is being divorced by her wealthy engineer husband, Simon Fawcett. In the story, she has taken a lover, Major Eastwood, who is younger than her. In the story, Yvette is fascinated with Mrs. Fawcett's indifference to social conventions regarding marriage and adultery.

Major Eastwood: Major Eastwood is Mrs. Fawcett's lover. He intends to marry Mrs. Fawcett once her divorce is finalized. In the story, he tells Yvette that "desire is the most wonderful thing in life." Like Mrs. Fawcett, he does not hold to traditional views of morality.

Leo Wetherell and Gerry Somercotes: Leo and Gerry are Yvette's suitors.

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