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Character Role Analysis

Topsy and Eva

It may not be typical to have three foils in a single novel but in this case, at least these four characters seem to play this role in relation to other major figures. Topsy is a foil for Eva – she represents what happens when a child is raised in a cruel environment, in contrast with Eva, who is surrounded by love. Ultimately, however, Topsy needs only a little bit of affection and direction in her life to transform her into a person more like Eva.

Miss Ophelia and Marie St. Clare

Miss Ophelia and Marie St. Clare each represent flaws inherent in contemporary northern and southern practices of femininity. Miss Ophelia is a hard-working religious Vermonter who nonetheless lacks feeling, while Marie St. Clare is a fading southern belle, selfish and spoiled by the slaveholding life. Though Miss Ophelia is perhaps more righteous than Marie St. Clare, she too has her own prejudices, painfully revealed in her treatment of Topsy. But while Miss Ophelia feels too little, perhaps Marie St. Clare feels too much – her childlike reliance on servants to run her household leaves her without any responsibilities to others, allowing her the time to think endlessly and only of herself.

Augustine and Alfred St. Clare

Augustine St. Clare is clearly, if briefly, contrasted with his twin brother, Alfred. The two men both grew up as sons of a wealthy southern planter, but St. Clare has optimistically chosen democracy as the righteous path, while his brother has chosen aristocracy as the path of least resistance and most profit. Despite the difference in philosophy between the two men, they are both slave owners. St. Clare indulges his servants and allows them to behave almost however they want; his brother Alfred runs a tight but brutal ship.