Who’s who in Pudd’nhead Wilson


More illustrations are available at http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/wilson/pwillshp.html

I’ve had a request to clarify the relationships of the characters in Pudd’nhead Wilson since we didn’t discuss them yet.  We’re introduced to a whole lot of characters in the first chapter.  If you Google some of these names (Percy, Northumberland, York, Leicester, etc.) you’ll see where Twain got them and what he’s trying to evoke. I put in a few links just to give you an idea.

Percy Northumberland Driscoll, brother of Judge York Leicester Driscoll and father of Tom (the real Tom).  His wife dies right after giving birth to Tom. He’s portrayed as distracted by business and lets Roxy, whom he frees in his will, look after Tom as well as her own child, Valet de Chambre (called “Chambers”). 

Judge York Leicester Driscoll, brother of Percy, and uncle to Tom. He is married but childless and takes Tom in after Percy dies.  He is “very proud of his old Virginian ancestry” and approves of duels. He and his wife dote on Tom and don’t see his faults. Mrs. Rachel Pratt is his widowed sister.

Pembroke Howard is a bachelor and Judge Driscoll’s best friend.  The judge confides in Pembroke about his distrust of Tom.

Colonel Cecil Burleigh Essex is “another F.F.V.,” which stands for First Families of Virginia. (Virginia is also called the “Old Dominion.”) The narrator says “with him we have no concern,” but later Roxy reveals that he is Chambers’s father.

Roxy is white in appearance, 1/16th African American but a slave by “fiction of law and custom.”  Noticing that her son Chambers and Tom are nearly identical, she switches them when they are five months old, so her son becomes the false “Tom” and the real Tom becomes “Chambers,” who endures beatings and bullying from the false Tom.

She is freed by Percy’s will and becomes a chambermaid on a steamboat, but she loses her money when the “bank” she trusted goes under. She returns to the false Tom (Chapter 8), her son, and although she knows he’s a thief, she sticks by him because he is her son.  She is the smartest person in the book, except possibly for —

David Wilson, called “Pudd’nhead Wilson,” who collects fingerprints as a hobby.

Luigi and Angelo Cappello are Italian noblemen (Count Luigi and Count Angelo) staying with Mrs. Patsy Cooper, a widow, and her daughter Rowena. In Twain’s original version of the book, called Those Extraordinary Twins, Luigi and Angelo were conjoined (or “Siamese,” as the phrase was then) twins. Twain writes that he pulled them out of that book in a “literary Caesarean section.” In some places in the book, you can see that he barely changed them. Here’s more on Twain and twins: http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/wilson/mttwins.html

By the way, if you’re looking for the questions we’ll discuss on Thursday, they are here:



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