Stories of Edgar Allan Poe Major Characters
Narrator of 'The Black Cat': Claiming himself to be an animal lover, his story is a confession of how he came to murder his wife because of a cat. He drinks alcohol heavily, but he blames the black cat for what has happened, rather than himself; he owns his own house and, as such, appears to be a fairly wealthy man. He dies the morning after telling the tale.
Pluto: The black cat so despised by the Narrator. Although he claimed to love Pluto at first, one day he stabs a penknife into the cat’s eye after returning home in a drunken stupor. Later, he hangs the cat from a tree by the neck, although his house burns down soon after. The narrator assumes Pluto to have supernatural powers and, eventually, he finds a cat that looks similar and becomes afraid that this cat is Pluto returned from the grave to haunt him; when his wife tries to stop him from slicing the second Pluto with an ax, he slices her instead. The cat is accidentally buried alive with the murdered wife, and its meowing draws the police to this hiding spot.
Narrator of 'The Fall of the House of Usher': A friend of Roderick Usher from their schooldays, the narrator visits Roderick’s house after hearing unsettling news that his friend needs to be comforted. Their, he encourages Roderick to read and play music, activities that lift him out of his depression because of Madeline’s illness. After Madeline dies, however, Roderick becomes very afraid however, which also infects the Narrator, although he had been skeptical that there was anything to be afraid of there. He hurriedly flees when the House of Usher crumbles down into the earth, soon after Roderick Usher is attacked by an angry, living Madeline.
Roderick Usher: A old friend of the Narrator from their schooldays, although the Narrator no longer knows him that well. Sullen and shy, the Roderick believes that the House of Usher in which he resides is a living creature; he is depressed because he and his twin sister, Madeline, are the last surviving members of the Usher family. The Narrator’s presence comforts him until the death of Madeline, and then Roderick is overcome with grief that the Usher line is nearly ended. When Madeline attacks him in anger for burying her alive, the Narrator flees. Just as Roderick had said, the House seems to come alive, crumbling apart and falling into the earth, along with the presumably murdered Roderick and deceased Madeline, the last of the House of Usher.
Prince Prospero: A great prince of an unnamed kingdom, Prospero hides from the suffering outside in his kingdom from the Red Death by inviting one thousand friends to live in the sanctity of his palace. No one comes in or leaves, to avoid the disease from getting inside. There, Prospero hosts wild masquerade parties, designing an elaborate system of colored rooms in which these events take place. He is rather arrogant to think that he can escape the Red Death, as he discovers one day when a figure resembling a victim of the Red Death enters the palace and, when Prospero angrily attempts to stab this figure with a knife, he immediately drops dead. The same fate soon befalls his partygoers, and the Red Death proves to be inescapable for even a wealthy Prince.
Narrator named P.: This Narrator P. claims to be a physician who has a great interest in Mesmerism. His story describes a Mesmeric experiment he conducted upon a man named Valdemar from Harlaem, in the moments before his death. The Narrator was able to hold Valdemar in a trance for several months, delaying his death. Finally, when the Narrator does release Valdemar from the trance, his body immediately decomposes. The Narrator also invokes various pieces of factual scientific information, in order to make his story seem more credible.
Valdemar: A resident of Harlaem, NY, and a well-known scholar. Upon discovering that he has a terminal illness, Valdemar eagerly agrees to assist the Narrator in a Mesmeric experiment to analyze how a trance will affect the process of dying. Upon entering the trance, Valdemar mutters various words, and he lays in such a state for several months. Eventually, Valdemar mutters that he 'is dead' and demands to be awakened. When the Narrator does this, Valdemar immediately decomposes into a pile of body fluids.
Narrator of 'The Premature Burial': A wealthy man overwhelmed by his own fear of being buried alive. The Narrator first relates numerous instances when people were mistakenly buried alive, and then he describes how he installed safeguards in his tomb to prevent this from happening to him. One day, he awakens feeling trapped, his face covered, and assumes that he has been buried alive! Soon he realizes that he has merely fallen asleep on a boat, and from this experience he learns not to live his life in constant fear and abandons his earlier worries, living life to its fullest without being afraid to stray far from his home like before.
Narrator of 'MS Found in a Bottle': A self-professed skeptic, this man describes his entire life story, that he does not easily believe in religion or supernatural events; he is a man of science. An antiques dealer who travels widely, the Narrator’s story is found written down on paper encased in a bottle from the sea. A journey beginning in Java leads to his coming aboard a strange ship that sails to the South Pole, where a mighty whirlpool consumes the ship. The Narrator’s story in hurled into the sea at the last moments before the ship’s descent, and his exact fate or whereabouts are unknown.
Narrator of 'A Tale of the Ragged Mountains': This Narrator from Charlottesville was friends with Augustus Bedloe and Doctor Templeton for awhile; he relates the strange Mesmeric relationship that exists between these two men, as Templeton easily controls the sickly Bedloe. One day, Bedloe disappears and upon his return, describes an odd occurrence where he traveled back in time to an earlier life and died. Soon after that, Bedloe himself does die when Templeton accidentally treats him with poisonous leeches. The Narrator is mystified and confused by these unexplainable events.
Augustus Bedloe: A sickly man from a wealthy family, enabling him to hire a full-time physician to treat his unknown illness. Augustus Templeton is completely controlled by Doctor Templeton, who can make Bedloe’s body move by using his mind. One day Bedloe has an odd experience in the Ragged Mountains outside of Charlottesville, and Templeton admits that Bedloe resembles a man whom he had once befriended but who had died. Judging from Bedloe’s experience, he remembered this event from the previous life, for he and Templeton‘s friend are one and the same -- he has been reincarnated. Soon after, Bedloe dies when Templeton mistakenly treats him with poisonous leeches.
Doctor Templeton: A skilled doctor and student of Mesmerism, who first met Augustus Bedloe in Saratoga, Virginia. Templeton was drawn to Bedloe because he resembled his old friend Oldeb so closely. Templeton conducts Mesmeric experiments on Bedloe until he gains total control over him. Many years before in India, Templeton failed to save Oldeb from death, and after Bedloe tells about his adventure in the Ragged Mountains, triggering a memory from an earlier life, Templeton accidentally kills Bedloe by treating him with poisoned leeches.
Narrator of 'The Sphinx': A man overcome by his fear of Death because a cholera epidemic is spreading through New York City, where he resides. A kind family member invites him to visit his home outside of the city for awhile, to ease some of these worries. Even there, the Narrator mistakes a tiny bug for an enormous monster crawling down the hillside to take his life away. Even though this is proven wrong by his host, the Narrator remains petrified.
Narrator of 'The Murders at the Rue Morgue' and 'The Purloined Letter': A wealthy man who agrees to allow Auguste Dupin live with him for free, because Dupin is such a fascinating individual. The Narrator allows himself to become absorbed by Dupin, reading throughout the daylight hours and taking walks at night. In many ways, Dupin is his intellectual mentor, teaching the Narrator how to use his analytical abilities. The Narrator listens patiently to Dupin’s elaborate explanations of how he solves first the murder mystery at Rue Morgue, and also recovers a stolen letter several years later. The Narrator is never directly involved in these operations and is left in the dark until Dupin reveals his methodology to him. The Narrator is a relative observer to apparent Dupin’s majesty and brilliance.
C. Auguste Dupin: A brilliant man who is creative but also analytical, much like the Minister D-- who is a poet and a mathematician. Dupin is highly observant and enjoys having the Narrator around as an audience to his abilities, and also to pay for his lodging, since Dupin himself somehow lost all of the money he had. The relationship is equal, as the Narrator provides material comforts and Dupin provides intellectual ones; they compliment each other, and Auguste enjoys the mentoring role. He is also very arrogant, showing disdain for those who are not as observant or skilled as he is, particularly the Parisian Prefect of Police. Dupin never admits any mistakes of his own, thus contributing to his inflated ego. He regains wealth once more as a reward from the Prefect after obtaining the 'purloined letter' back from the unsuspecting Minister D---.
Narrator of 'The Tell-Tale Heart': A psychotic man who murders his roommate, an old man, because the old man’s eyes frighten him. He then cuts up the old man and buries his body under the floorboards. What he then perceives to be the incessant beating of the old man’s heart is the beating of his own, because the old man is very dead. The police arrive, and the Narrator acts nonchalant, before he maniacally confesses the murder due to the heartbeat he hears. He reasserts his sanity again and again, insisting to the reader that he is not a madman at all.
Old Man from 'The Tell-Tale Heart': A kindly old man who trusted the Narrator to take care of him and help him out. During the evenings, the Narrator watched this Old Man while he slept, plotting to murder him because his eye scares the Narrator. One night he makes noise and the Old Man awakens, at which the Narrator soon lunges upon him, suffocating him under the bed. The Old Man is then cut into pieces and stored beneath the floor, until the Narrator admits to police that he murdered the Old Man, because he thinks that they can hear the Old Man‘s heart beating throughout the room, even though it is in fact his own.
Walter Legrand: An eccentric resident of Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, South Carolina and student of shells. Legrand’s name means 'The Great,' and he is from an old French family based in New Orleans, although he had fled there due to financial worries. Walter Legrand acts strangely after discovering a Gold-Bug on the island and takes it back to his tiny shack; his black servant, Jupiter, thinks that Legrand has some illness because he sneaks around during the day, but eventually Legrand reveals himself to be a brilliant man who discovers the long lost treasure of Captain Kidd, due to the manual labor provided by the Narrator and Jupiter. In doing so, Walter Legrand relieves those financial worries that had initially caused him to flee New Orleans.
Narrator of 'The Gold-Bug': An acquaintance of Walter Legrand from Charleston, South Carolina. The Narrator is very skeptical of Legrand’s behavior just like Jupiter, thinking that Legrand has gone insane because of his odd behavior. The Narrator helps Legrand decipher the map unknowingly when he points out that there is an image on the parchment that Legrand did not even draw, which appeared after the dog jumped on him, and he held the parchment closely to the fire. Later, the Narrator helps to dig up the treasure and gets a share of these riches for himself as well, proving that he was wrong in judging Legrand to be mentally ill.
Narrator of 'The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether': A French physician from Paris who spontaneously decides to visit a famous 'Maison de Sante' in southern France. There, the Narrator mistakenly believes that Monsieur Maillard and his guests are really sane people, even though these individuals are psychiatric patients who have taken over the hospital and imprisoned the real hospital staff. At one point Maillard indirectly refers to the Narrator as a 'stupid-looking gentleman,' and even after the truth is revealed, the Narrator searches for work by Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, even though it’s obvious Maillard was just referring to how he had tarred and feathered the hospital’s staff. This clueless narrator is perceived as a subtle satire of Charles Dickens, whom Poe eventually disliked.
Monsieur Maillard: Once the director of the 'Maison de Sante' in southern France which used the famous 'soothing system,' Maillard has since gone insane himself and became the hospital’s patient. The Narrator does not suspect this, assuming Maillard to have always been the director; Maillard led the successful rebellion against the hospital staff, and he instituted the new 'system of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,' referring to how he tarred and feather the hospital’s employees, confining them. Maillard is overthrown again by the hospital staff during the Narrator’s visit, and peace is restored with the reinstatement of this 'soothing system.' Maillard thinks that the Narrator is a very stupid person.
Narrator of 'The Man That Was Used Up': This frustrated Narrator from an unnamed place seeks to discover more about John Smith by conducting an investigation. He asks many different individuals about Smith, because he has the feeling that Smith has some secret that he’s concealing. After asking people from church, the theater, and at a dinner party, he goes to Smith’s house himself. There, he discovers that Smith is almost entirely made out of fabricated body parts, because he has been so badly injured during his wars with the Kickapoo and Bugaboo Indians. Satisfied, the Narrator’s frustration immediately goes away.
Brevet Brigadier-General John A.B.C. Smith : A mighty war hero whose features appear to be so perfect that it seems too good to be true. His hair is perfect, he has broad shoulders and a melodic voice, beautiful eyes, and his moustache is trimmed perfectly. The Narrator discovers that this image is fake, indeed, because Smith’s body has been so badly damaged during his fierce battles with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians. Everyone seems to know Smith’s secret except for the Narrator, and nobody really likes to talk about it because it unsettles them. Without his mechanisms, John Smith is just a 'large bundle,' which the Narrator kicked out of his way upon entering Smith’s bedroom. This bundle does not even appear to be of a human form, for he is all used up.
Thomas Monck Mason: A historical figure and famous balloon aviator who sailed in the 'Nassau Balloon' from London to Germany in 1836 along with Robert Holland and Charles Green. Poe pretends that Thomas Monck Mason is writing much of this tale in the form of diary entries to give the tale more credibility, mimicking the narrative style Monck had employed in his Account of the Late Aeronautical Expedition from London to Weilburg. Mason is the man in charge of this supposed balloon flight across the Atlantic Ocean, as he is the chief designer of this balloon as well. Monck’s supposed words in 'The Balloon-Hoax' simply describe changes in the weather, the condition of the balloon, and general details of their feelings during the journey before landing on Sullivan’s Island.
Harrison Ainsworth: A historical figure who was born in 1805 and died in 1882, Ainsworth was a popular writer of 'historical romances.' Jack Sheppard, published in 1839, portrays a fugitive running from the law seeking to prove his innocence; Ainsworth was also well-acquainted with Charles Dickens, whom Poe had some correspondence with. Poe makes Ainsworth a part of this tale to gove it credibility, as with the addition of Monck Mason. Ainsworth provides a more 'creative' description of events to contrast the technical details related by Mason, creating the same duality as is embodied in Poe’s Auguste Dupin, uniting the 'analytical' with the 'creative,' the mathematician and the poet.
Old man from 'Descent into the Maelstrom': An old Norwegian fisherman whose two brothers drowned in the Moskoestrom, although he managed to escape from the sea through his own ingenuity. None of the other fishermen believe his fantastic tale however, nor does he expect the Narrator to believe him either. He has children of his own now, but his body is horribly damaged from the horror nearly drowning in the sea, and his hair has turned from black to white.
Narrator of 'The Pit and the Pendulum': Presumably a Frenchman, the Narrator is imprisoned by judges in Toledo, Spain, as part of the Inquisition. He describes his explorations of his prison, where he nearly falls into a large pit, but then later he is tied up beneath a swinging blade that shall soon cut him. His ingenuity saves him, as the hungry rats chew through his bindings while devouring the meat juices the Narrator has spread upon it. Then the walls come together and force him into the pit, until he is saved at the last possible moment by a French general, who catches his hand as he falls.
Montresor: Presumably an Italian, Montresor is overcome with hatred for Fortunato because he does not treat him as an equal. Monstresor claims that Fortunato has insulted him countless time, and now he will have his revenge, wishing to have 'freedom from impunity,' or 'punishment.' A wealthy man, Monstresor seeks social equality from the arrogant Fortunato, who refuses to give this to him. Luring Fortunato to his home with promises that he can taste test his Amontillado wine, Monstresor then chains Fortunato to a far wall underneath his home where there are poisonous fumes from saltpeter, and then he buried him inside of the wall there. Joyfully, Monstresor declares that nobody has found Fortunato’s body, even after fifty years. He obtained his revenge, and he did not receive any punishment for this murder either.
Fortunato: An arrogant Italian who drinks alcohol heavily, especially wine. This is the weakness that Monstresor exploits in his plot to murder Fortunato to avenge the many injuries that Fortunato has committed against him. Fortunato does not suspect his plan at all, selfishly wishing only to have the Amontillado. Upon realizing what Monstresor has planned for him as his is being buried behind the wall, a sober Fortunato pleads with Monstresor to release him, but it is already too late. Rather than forgive Fortunato, Monstresor decides nevertheless to take away this arrogant man’s life, declaring simply, even fifty years later, 'May he rest in peace.'
Wife from 'The Black Cat': The Narrator’s wife tolerates her husband’s excessive drinking habits, even after he stabbed Pluto’s eye with a penknife. She is later chopped by an ax when she tries to save their second cat from being slain, and her body is buried in the basement’s wall.
Madeline Usher: The twin sister of Roderick Usher. She suffers from some terminal illness which no doctor can cure and, upon being placed in a tomb after she dies, this woman returns to kill Roderick, since she apparently was not dead yet at all! Roderick and Madeline are pulled beneath the earth with the collapsing house, presumably to die together.
Ethelred: A fictitious character from a fictitious book called Mad Trist by a fictitious author named Sir Launcelot Canning. A 'trist' or 'tryst' is a meeting between people. In the story this Narrator reads from, Ethelred was meeting a hermit initially, who transforms into a dragon, whom Ethelred slays. The book’s title, meaning then 'The insane meeting,' would be applied to Roderick’s situation with Madeline, whom he patiently awaits at his chamber‘s door.
Friends of Prospero: One thousand friends of this Prince Prospero who are invited within the gates of his palace to escape the Red Death that rages outside. Every night they dress up and have wild parties, but the Red Death enters the palace nevertheless, and all of these friends then quickly die.
Doctors D--- and F---: Two doctors who are invited to participate in the Narrator’s experiment upon the dying Valdemar by holding him in a Mesmeric trance. These doctors depart on Saturday and return on Sunday, surprised to see that Valdemar, although suspended, is still living.
Theodore L---l: A medical student presumably from New York City, Theodore joins the Narrator around eight o’clock in the evening after the doctors leave. Later, when Valdemar utters aloud that he is dead, Theodore faints, falling onto the floor in shock.
Congressman’s wife: This woman died and was buried in her family tomb. Three years later, upon reopening the tomb they found her skeletal remains near the doorway, revealing that she had been buried alive and put up a vain struggle to escape from this tomb.
Mademoiselle Victorine Lafourcade: A woman who married Monsieur Renelle for his money instead of Julien Bossuet, but Renelle treated her badly. Eventually, she died and was buried beneath the ground. A grieving Julien dug up her grave to have a lock of her hair, only to discover that she was really alive! Victorine escapes with Julien to America and returned to France after many years, where the courts ruled that she was no longer obligated to live with Renelle, because she had been gone for so long. Her love with Julien is legitimized.
Monsieur Renelle: A wicked but wealthy man who treats his wife poorly and mistakenly has her buried alive in the ground. Twenty years later, he tries to force Victorine to live with him again but the judges declare that their marriage is nullified because it has been so long.
Julien Bossuet: A virtuous man who never lost his love for Victorine, even when she married Renelle instead of him. He accidentally saves Victorine from certain death after digging up her buried body for a lock of hair. The two travel to America and return to France after many years, their mutual love untainted.
Officer of the artillery: A man spoken about in The Chirurgical Journal of Leipsic who appeared to be dead after falling off of his horse. He was buried beneath the ground, but while there he regained consciousness and started screaming; someone heard his cries, and coffin was soon dug up, and he appeared to be fine. Unfortunately, after later tests with the galvanic battery, he somehow died after his body had an adverse reaction to it.
Mr. Edward Stapleton: A young lawyer who appeared to die because of typhus fever. After his body as stolen by dishonest doctors who wanted to conduct experiments on it, Edward Stapleton regained complete consciousness and was perfectly healthy!
Captain: This captain of the Narrator’s ship decides to cast anchor after leaving Java because of a storm. This turns out to be a terrible idea, because huge waters then pour over the ship, drowning nearly everyone on board, including the captain. Only the Narrator and an old Swede survive.
Oldeb: An old friend of Doctor Templeton who served with him in the army during the administration of Warren Hastings in India. He died during an uprising, however, and his spirit was later reincarnated as Augustus Bedloe, whom Templeton was immediately drawn to because of his resemblance to Oldeb, also spelled by reversing Bedloe.
Warren Hastings: A historical figure from British history, Warren Hastings (1732-1818) was the governor of Britain’s colonial territory in India from 1774-1784. Poe includes him to provide a sense of factual immediacy to his tale, and the fictitious Oldeb was a military officer under Hastings’ command. Hastings did actually repel this factual uprising in which Oldeb was slain by the natives‘ arrows.
Host: A relative of the Narrator who lives outside of New York City near the Hudson River who invites the Narratir to his home to escape the cholera epidemic. His sommon sense overshadows that of the Narrator, who believes that a tiny insect is a monster coming to take hi life. This host points out that it is only an insect, after briefly reading about it out loud from a book.
Mademoiselle Camille L’Espanaye: A brutally murdered woman who resides on the Rue Morgue. Her body was found decapitated on the street after it was thrown out of the window of her home. She had just withdrawn four thousand francs from the bank shortly before she was murdered, but this money was left at the murder scene, untouched by any intruders. Her death baffles the Parisian police.
Madame L’Espanaye: The young daughter of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, who resided with her mother at the Rue Morgue. Her body, too, was found brutally murdered with bruises on her neck and her body stuffed up the chimney.
Adolphe Le Bon: A man falsely accused of murdering the L'Espanaye women, because he has been the clerk who accompanied the older woman home from the bank with her large sum of money. Desperate for a suspect, the police arrest him. Dupin admits that Le Bon is a friend of his, and he is eager to see this man freed from all charges against him.
Vidocq: Eugene Francois Vidocq was a historical figure upon whom Dupin’s character is based. A lifetime criminal, Vidocq (1775-1857) eventually was released from prison with the help of Parisian authorities and was hired as the Prefect of police in 1811 due to his wit and understanding of the criminal world. After working for many years in this capacity, he resigned his position after a number of scandals emerged, among those being accusations that he was responsible for committing many of the crimes that he supposedly solved. Dupin criticizes Vidocq in 'The Murders at the Rue Morgue' for having certain personality flaws. As always, Auguste Dupin is better than everyone else.
G--, The Parisian Prefect of Police: The Parisian chief of police. Dupin disdains this man for his shallow investigative abilities, going so far as to arrest Adolphe Le Bon. G-- is angry when Dupin solves the Rue Morgue murders, declaring that he must mind his own business. In 'The Purloined Letter,' he is shallow as well, paying Dupin fifty thousand francs for the restoration of a letter his police had been searching for over a period of months. The Prefect is so happy to get the letter that he doesn’t even thank Dupin for helping him.
Sailor: The owner of a runaway Ourang-Outang that he had captured in Borneo. When the monkey committed the murders before his eyes, the sailor fled in fear. He goes to Dupin’s home after reading Dupin’s newspaper advertisement falsely declaring that he had captured a lost Ourang-Outang in Paris. After confessing this, the sailor does soon recapture the animal on his own.
Jupiter: A black servant of Walter Legrand who resides with him on Sullivan’s Island. His name is also the Roman king of gods, forming quite a paradox for his own poor state of mind. He is often the subject of ridicule because of his incessant worrying, thinking Legrand to be mentally ill. Jupiter was once a slave, but even after he was freed by his master, he insisted on remaining with Walter to take care of him.
Newfoundland dog: This large breed of dog startles the Narrator shortly upon entering the Legrand’s shack on Sullivan’s Island, causing him to put the parchment near the fire and illuminating the hidden ink that describes Captain Kidd’s treasure. Later, the dog breaks free of his rope and digs the last few bits of soil to reveal the skeletal remains of one of Kidd’s men. In tune with the humor of this story, the dog is probably drawn to those buried bones.
Three policemen: These three policemen investigate a neighbor’s noise complaint about the apartment shared by the Narrator and the old man. They are nearly prepared to depart, convinced that everything is fine, when the Narrator screams aloud that the old man is buried beneath the floor. He assumes that the policemen can hear the old man’s heart beating, even though only he can hear this beating of his own heart. At this, the police undoubtedly uncover the dead body and take the Narrator into custody.
Lieutenant G--: An officer on Sullivan’s Island from Fort Moultrie. Legrand allows Lietenant G-- to borrow the gold-bug that he discovers, and he thus has to wait until the next day to get it back from him and show the Narrator.
Captain Kidd: A famous historical figure known for his work as a protector of ships from pirates, but then he decided to become a pirate himself. Born in Scotland in 1645, William Kidd later moved to New York in America. He would attack all sorts of merchant ships stealing and secretly reselling merchandise. Eventually, he sought protection from the colonial governor of New York after traveling to America from the West Indies, but this man sent him to go on trial and be executed in England. Legends abound of Kidd’s treasure buried along the East Coast before, much of which was never recovered, aside from some which was found hidden on Long Island. Poe uses this popular legend in his tale of 'The Gold-Bug,' suggesting that Kidd’s treasure is hidden on Sullivan’s Island.
Monsieur De Kock: This dinner guest makes a scene when he eagerly describes an asylum patient who thought he was a donkey, which he then begins to enact. De Kock’s eagerness in explaining this man behavior would suggest that this man is himself that very patient!
Mademoiselle Laplace: Laplace reminds guests at the dinner table, such as De Kock, to behave appropriately and not get carried away with their descriptions of former patients at the asylum. Her name means 'The place.'
Madame Joyeuse: A female dinner guest who describes one patient named Madame Joyeuse who thought she was a rooster. This dinner guest then begins to crow loudly at the dinner table, until she is strictly reprimanded by Monsieur Maillard to behave properly. Her last name means 'Happy.'
Eugenie Salsafette: The first woman dressed elegantly now dresses in clothes too big for her with a dirty cap unbefitting her beauty. She eagerly describes a patient who used to always get undressed all of the time and then undresses herself at the dinner table.
Friend of Brigadier-General John Smith: This unnamed friend introduces the Narrator to John Smith, noting him to be a great and noble warrior. He does not reveal Smith’s secret to him, that most of his body is formed from fabricated mechanisms.
Miss Arabella Cognoscenti: Arabella is Miranda’s sister, and just when she is about to make an important statement to the Narrator about Smith while they’re at the theater, the play begins, cutting off her words. Her last name means in Latin, 'Knowing' or 'Understanding.' In many ways, this mocks the narrator who seeks to know what she knows but cannot.
Miss Miranda Cognoscenti: Miranda is Arabella’s sister, and just when she is about to make an important statement to the Narrator about Smith while they’re at the theater, the play begins, cutting off her words. Her last name means in Latin, 'Knowing' or 'Understanding.' In many ways, this mocks the narrator who seeks to know what she knows but cannot.
Climax: An actor who infuriates the Narrator because he screams his lines from Othello so loudly that the Narrator can’t even hear what the Cognoscenti sisters are saying. The Narrator then goes and beats Climax up as a punishment for being so loud.
Kathleen O’Trump: Kathleen hosts a soiree (party) at her home after the play performance, and the Narrator asks her about John Smith. She readily replies, until another guest interrupts their conversation and the frustrated Narrator storms away.
Captain Mann: A female guest interrupts Kathleen O’Trump to ask about Captain Mann. Historically, Mann was a military officer in the early nineteenth century who established For Mann in Kansas (not far from the modern day Fort Leavenworth) to defend against the local Kickapoo Indians, who are discussed in this tale. Poe probably mentions Mann to give his tale some historical immediacy for his readership.
Miss Pirouette: A guest at O’Trump’s dinner party who is about to make some statement about Smith before the Narrator is called away by another woman to settle some intellectual debate. Upon his return, Pirouette is gone!
Mr. Theodore Sinivate: Sinivate has plenty of time to explain his impressions about John Smith, but he resists the Narrator’s questioning. He is evasive and willfully refuses to give the Narrator the answers about what secret Smith is hiding from him. This suggests that everyone else, too, whom the Narrator had spoken too became distracted purposely so that they could avoid discussing this subject. The fact that Smith is made mainly of fake body parts is an unsettling thought to them.
Pompey: A black slave belonging to Brigadier-General John Smith. Named after a great Roman general, Pompey assembles Smith‘s assorted fabricated body parts to help him get 'dressed' during the morning of the Narrator’s visit. Observing this in progress, the Narrator’s persisting confusion about Smith is dispelled at long last.
Robert Holland: A famous aviator who accompanied Charles Green and Monck Mason during the Nassau balloon flight. He also reportedly was onboard this fictitious trans-Atlantic balloon flight from Wales to Sullivan’s Island.
Mr. Henson: William Henson designed a famous 'aerial steam engine' in 1842, which was then out on display at the Adelaide Gallery (this is historical fact). Poe also makes this man as a traveler aboard the his fictitious flying machine, Victoria, which supposedly landed on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina.
Mr. Forsyth: Reportedly, this is the name of the informant from Charleston, South Carolina, who has put together this article about the nonexistent 'balloon landing.' One can assume that Forsyth’s existence is as real as the rest of this story, i.e. not at all.
Mr. Osborne, nephew of Lord Bentinck: Lord Bentinck was a famous historical figure who was governor of Britain’s colonial India territory from 1828-1835. However, he did not have a nephew named 'Osbourne,' so this is apparently another attempt by Poe to create immediacy for his readers, since Bentinck was undoubtedly well-known to American readers, since he had ended his position as governor only ten years before this tale’s publication.
Two sailors from Woolwich: No explanation is given for their involvement in the trip of this balloon from Wales to Sullivan’s Island. Woolwich is a well-known town in England located on the Thames River, known as the site of the Royal Dockyard and the Royal Arsenal.
Charles Green: Historically, Green (1785-1870) accompanied Robert Holland and Thomas Monck Mason on the Nassau flight from England to Germany in November of 1836. He also invented the tail rope system which Poe describes in this tale, to conserve more gas by lifting or lowering the guide rope accordingly. Historical reality is blended into Poe’s work to make it believable.
Narrator from 'A Descent into the Maelstrom': An outsider who knows little about Norway’s Moskoestrom. The fisherman he meets there tells of his near-death experience, declaring that he does not expect the Narrator to believe his tale, because none of his fellow fisherman do.
Elder and younger brother of the old man: The old man’s younger brother drowns as soon as the storm throws waves across the boat, but the elder brother holds on for dear life. Later, the elder brother forces the old man away from his hand hold at the Astrolabe ring, choosing to save himself rather than working with his brother for a solution. The old man thus escapes alone, as his elder brother is pulled into the Maelstrom along with their tiny boat.
Marie Roget: A character in another short story by Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Mystery of Marie Roget.' Auguste Dupin had received further fame for solving this murder mystery after the Rue Morgue murders. Several years later, the Prefect asks for help yet again in recovering 'The Purloined Letter.'
Royal personage: An unnamed woman of royalty whose family name begins with the letter 'S,' from whom a scandalous letter was stolen by Minister D---. As a result, he is blackmailing her, and she enlists the Prefect to retrieve it for her. Having failed, the Prefect asks for Auguste Dupin’s assistance, and in a rare display of loyalty, Dupin declares that in the end that he retrieved the letter to preserve her integrity.
Minister D---: A poet and a mathematician, the Minister D--- is a brilliant man, much like Auguste Dupin himself. In many ways these two are very much alike, for they are both opportunists and disdain those who are weaker than them. His combination of poet and mathematician reflects Dupin’s own combination of the 'creative' and 'analytical' as described by the Narrator. Once the Minister D--- had somehow beaten Dupin, and now Dupin reasserts himself and has his revenge by outsmarting him. Heralding D--- as a man of ingenuity, Dupin nevertheless feels no pity for the fate that shall befall D--- when he discovers that his blackmail letter is gone. Whereas D--- has used his brilliance to commit crime, so too had Dupin used his own brilliance for good purposes.
Men wearing black robes: Judges of the Spanish Inquisition. These unnamed men pronounce a death sentence upon the narrator, carrying him down to a dark prison. They are not seen again, although they are presumably responsible for strapping the Narrator down as he sleeps, leaving food and water for him, etc. These men are attacked by the French army, and the Narrator is saved from their torturous cruelty.