by Charles Dickens
Rigaud / Blandois / Lagnier
The big bad villain of the novel. Or is he? Blandois is a spy, an acquitted murderer, a blackmailer, and a man whose main goal in life is to constantly act like a gentleman. He is never shown to be anything but evil, menacing, and generally bad news.
In some ways, Blandois is almost a cartoony bad guy. With his funny mustache, we wouldn't be surprised to see him tying some damsel in distress to train tracks and cackling gleefully. Every single person who comes into contact with him is immediately frightened and repelled, and no one is ever even remotely deceived about his intentions.
And yet, even this seemingly totally one-note character has some complicating quirks. No, we don't mean that he has some backstory explaining why he's such a rotten egg. But he has a quality in common with Dorrit, and to a lesser extent with Merdle: he is obsessed with, totally strict about, and extremely serious in his pursuit of always acting and being seen as a gentleman. Next to all the crimes he commits, it's his number one interest and concern. Now, to Blandois, being a gentleman generally means something a little different than to Dorrit or the other guys – in his case, it's about always being served by others and treating the ladies with off-putting charm and gallantry. But still – why does he have this trait in common with the novel's other imposters? How are we meant to compare them? What makes them different from each other? Is there a sliding scale of poser morality?