Thomasina Coverly, aged thirteen, later sixteen:
Thomasina begins the play with her tutor explaining the definition of carnal
embrace. Her immediate naiveté is deceiving when the reader eventually
discovers that her intelligence rates to that of a genius. She is strikingly
sophisticated yet this characteristic is unknown by those who surround
her and her innocence. Stated by her mother, Lady Croom, "ignorance
should be like an empty vessel waiting to be filled at the well of truth
- not a cabinet of vulgar curious." (11)
"Each week I plot your equations dot for dot [Septimus], xs and
ys in all manner of algebraical relation...God's truth, Septimus, if there
is an equation for a curve like a bell, there must be an equation for one
like a bluebell, and if a bluebell, why not a rose?" (37)
Septimus Hodge, her tutor, aged twenty-two, later twenty-five:
An intriguing personality, he is someone who is proud of his intelligence
and flaunts his genius but is humbled by his meager income and low status
occupation. He is somewhat of a womanizer who is in love with the dame
of the house, Lady Croom, but is caught in "carnal embrace" with Mrs. Chater.
During the first scene, he nonchalantly brushes off Mr. Chater's outbursts:
"Mrs. Chater demanded satisfaction and now you [Chater] are demanding
satisfaction. I cannot spend my time day and night satisfying the demands
of the Chater family." (7)
"We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything
in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind.
The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march.
But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it." (38)
Jellaby, a butler, middle-aged:
A small character, Jellaby is your stereotypical butler who is always somehow
involved with the latest gossip of the house. In a scene with Septimus
and Thomasina, she describes his tendency to discuss others' business:
"I heard Jellaby telling cook...You heard Jellaby telling the cook..."
"The servants are told nothing, sir." (68)
Ezra Chater, a poet, aged thirty-one:
Mr. Chater will strike the reader as incompetent and submissive to his
wife at first, and most likely, his drab personality and hyperactive ways
of defending his wife's honor will not contradict that first impression.
In response to finding out Septimus' carnality with his wife, Chater exclaims,
"You damned lecher! You would drag down a lady's reputation to make
a refuge for your cowardice...I am calling you out!" (6)
"...God knows one is little appreciated if one stands outside
the coterie of hacks and placemen who surround Jeffrey and the Edinburgh..."
Richard Noakes, a landscape architect, middle-aged:
Noakes is always in on the gossip as well but he keeps busy trying to develop
a distinctly unique landscape. Described by Hodge as a "jumped-up jobbing
gardener" (10), he seems to be a person to whom little respect is shown
by the other characters. He is the character who develops the hermitage
which plays such a distinct role in the play.
"It is the modern style...a ruined castle is picturesque, certainly."
Lady Croom, middle thirties:
The dame of the house is a very controlling and determined person. She
uses her position as a force to bend her guests to her will, especially
Chater. "Mr. Chater, you are a welcome guest at Sidley Park but while
you are one, The Castle of Otranto was written by whomsoever I say it was..."
(13). Her husband is often out hunting and her passion for Hodge is
secretive for only the beginning of the show.
"...I have despatched the harlot Chater and her husband--and
also my brother for bringing them here. Such is the sentence, you see [Septimus],
for choosing unwisely in your acquaintance. Banishment." (69)
Captain Brice, RN, middle thirties:
Thomasina's uncle, Brice, is often found being a disciplinary figure to
the girl. However, he can also be found defending young Thomasina's innocence
in regard to Septimus: "As her tutor you have a duty to keep her in
ignorance." (11) Later in the show, it is discovered that Brice is
in love with a particular character of which allows him the opportunity
to take advantage of Mr. Chater. He is a secondary character but his actions
have a very important reaction to the plot.
"If you cannot attend to me without this foolery [Septimus],
nominate your second who might settle the business as between gentlemen."
Hannah Jarvis, an author, late thirties:
An obviously independent woman, she is proud of her discoveries and accomplishments
and works hard to progress her career. Hannah can often be found bragging
about her own works: "I sent her [Lady Croom-present day] my book--it
contains, as you know if you've read it--which I'm not assuming, by the
way--a rather good description of Caroline's garden at Brocket Hall." (24)
She is set in the present day and is working at discovering who
exactly lived in the hermitage when she comes across Bernard Nightingale,
who enhances and changes her goals.
"English landscape was invented by gardeners imitating foreign
painters who were evoking classical authors. The whole thing was brought
home in the luggage from the grand tour...Capability Brown doing Claude,
who was doing Virgil." (25)
For more information concerning
the life and works of Capability Brown, click here.
Chloe Coverly, aged eighteen:
Small infatuations with Bernard lead to her interest in the entire situations
surrounding the early times of the Sidley Park. She is Valentine's sister
and is constantly bringing up sexual innuendoes or inferences. In a debate
with Valentine about why a math formula can't work, she feels it fails
"...because of sex...The universe is deterministic all right, just like
Newton said...but the only thing going wrong is people fancying people
who aren't supposed to be in that part of the plan." (73)
"...everything including us is just a lot of atoms bouncing off
each other like billiard balls." (73)
Bernard Nightingale, a don, late thirties:
A very pushy, direct and demanding person, he has specific, self-serving
goals of which he needs Hannah to help complete. His main focus of study
is the life and death of Lord Byron,
the poet, who seemed to be involved in the supposed death of Ezra Chater.
He prides himself on his discoveries but tends to make inferences and conclusions
on unproved and loosely believed principles. He is somewhat conceited and
is stingy in the amount of credit he is willing to give others: "I will
be taking questions at the end. Constructive comments will be welcome.
Which is indeed my reason for trying out in the provinces before my London
opening...By the way, Valentine, do you want a credit?" (55)
"For God's sake, Bernard, you haven't even established Byron
was here." "I'll tell you your problem [Hannah]. No guts...by which I mean
a visceral belief in yourself. Gut instinct. The part of you which doesn't
reason. The certainty for which there is no back-reference." (50)
Valentine Coverly, aged twenty-five to thirty:
Brother of Chloe, he is in the process of getting his doctorate degree
from Oxford in biology. Bernard refers to him as Brideshead Regurgitated"
which is of course completely inapt. He is studying the lives of grouse through mathematical
theorems. His interests is peaked when he and Hannah discover Thomasina's
mathematical propositions from 100 years prior to his time. Thomasina discovered
that when you take an equation, you can use the output as the input for
the next problem. When all of these points are plotted onto a graph, they
would make the picture of what the subject of study was. For instance,
a leaf growing can be drawn by plotting the points of the specific leaf
equation. In more simple terms, everything in nature has an equation, which
with a large enough computer, one could discover the future. Valentine
uses the opposite approach with the grouse. He feels that "The unpredictable
and the predetermined unfold together to make everything the way it is.
It's how nature creates itself, on every scale..." (47) He uses the
final output to find the original equation. The problem arises when he
finds that there is too much "noise" occurring to figure out the equation.
This "noise" is considered to be anything that gets in the way of nature
and the average grouse life. He works alongside Hannah and becomes wrapped
up in the entire Sidley Park mystery when Bernard arrives.
"The future is disorder...It's the best possible time to be alive,
when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong." (48)
For more information on the
theory discussed by Valentine, click here.
Gus Coverly, aged fifteen:
Brother of Chloe and Valentine, he is always silent; however, his family
refers to him as a genius. He helped solve an unknown dilemma when "Last
year some expert had her [Lady Croom] digging in the wrong place for months
to find something or other...and Gus put her right first go." (48) His
entrances are short and quick, yet he always manages to give Hannah, who
he is secretly in love with, a loving look or simple smile.
"My genius brother [Gus] will be much relieved. He's in love
with you [Hannah], I suppose you know. " (33)
Augustus Coverly, aged fifteen:
He is the young man of the house during the 1800's. He is sharp whited
and scheming to get Thomasina in trouble by telling her secrets to their
parents. He is intelligent with a touch of snobbery due to his attendance
at the prestigious Eton school:
"I am a master of it [drawing] at Eton, Mr. Hodge, but we only
draw naked women." (77)
- Authors -
Allyson Kearns and Tim Meendering