Study Guide

Minor Characters in A Great and Terrible Beauty

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Minor Characters


This is Kartik's brother and one of the Rakshana who warns Gemma's mother about Circe at the beginning of the book. He dies trying to protect Virginia Doyle.


The head servant to Spence and Mrs. Nightwing, Brigid knows and sees a lot that goes on at the school and has a mind to talk about it. Brigid has been around for so long, and she really helps Gemma figure some things out about her mystery.

Cecily, Elizabeth, and Crew

These girls mean to be perfect: teachers pets, honor students, highly popular, rich, shallow—and they aspire to be perfect wives and mothers someday, and nothing more, just as society tells them to be. They gossip about everyone and chatter on about dresses and gloves and balls, and they make Ann suffer because she is lower class, which shows they have no compassion or understanding for others outside of their small world. They desperately want Felicity and Pippa to be their friends so that they may be considered the most popular girls in the school too.

Gemma's Father

We don't see much of him, but he has a big influence on Gemma. He is so crushed by her mother's death that he sinks into depression and opiate drug addiction to escape his pain and problems. He is being taken care of by Grandmama and Tom, but isn't doing well, and when he comes to visit Spence, he is skinny and shaky and frail.


We don't see much of Grandmama, but she is the matron who pays to send Gemma to finishing school. Like Tom, Grandmama is mostly concerned with appearances and the family name; she wants Gemma to look good for them all and make a good match in marriage.

The Huntress

This creature lives in the realms—specifically in the garden—and befriends Felicity. She teaches her how to hunt and all about archery, which the girl becomes quite good at. She also gets corrupted by an evil spirit, a.k.a. Circe's creature, and tries to trick Gemma into eating berries that will kill her.

Inspector Kent

Quick and rather inspector-like, Mr. Kent has a thing for Mademoiselle LeFarge, who is quite rude to him when he explains how séances work at Madam Romanoff's event. He doesn't mind though—he likes her. And Gemma really likes him too, maybe because he is sensible and kind and she wants to see her teacher happy.


Hey there, lover boy. Kartik is a hunk and totally serious about his job as a messenger and member of the Rakshana. Kartik's charged with stopping Gemma from entering the realms and controlling her so that the Rakshana can gain power and magic instead of the Order. Gemma's got the major hots for him and his dreamy eyelashes, and luckily for her, he warms up to her too toward the end of the book.

Mademoiselle LeFarge

This first rate French teacher is professional and serious, yet approachable. She is kind and loves teaching, and taking her girls on an outing to a séance makes her even friendlier with her students since they get some one-on-one time with her. She remains single because her long-lost love—a fiancé who went off to war—was killed, and she hasn't let that go. But when she meets Inspector Kent at the séance, and hears a message from her beloved from the great beyond, she is finally ready to move on.

Miss Moore

Oh, the joys of teaching. This strong female figure is Gemma's saving grace at Spence, and an ally and a mentor. Some of the girls love her and some hate her (for being strong, free, and different), but Gemma is especially close with Miss Moore. She teaches Art and knows a lot about ancient Greek (and more) myths, including the Order and witches; she is fired because Pippa lies and says she gave Gemma Mary Dowd's diary.

Mother Elena

This old Gypsy is a fortuneteller and somewhat supernatural, meaning she can sense clairvoyant stuff and see into the future a bit. She is a legit, though less powerful, witch.

Mrs. Nightwing

For an older single woman running a boarding school for rich girls, Mrs. Nightwing isn't half-bad. She can seem kind of intimidating at times, but the old girl is nothing but a mother hen looking out for all her chickies. Nightwing takes her job seriously and has some empathy for her wards—she is just a strict woman leading a restricted life.

Sarah Rees-Toome (Circe)

Now here is a wicked witch. We don't know what she looks like, but we know an awful lot about her obsession with gaining power, her willingness to deal with the evil spirits in order to get it, her anger and jealousy and hate. We know she was Mary Dowd's (Virginia Doyle's) best friend at Spence and that she isn't dead—she is coming after Gemma and working with a wraith to find her. Yikes.


This is Gemma and her mother's maidservant in India. She is protective and loving toward them and partially raised Gemma, who has fond memories of her from childhood.


Gemma's big bro is less than fun to hang out with. Bummer, right? Tom is shallow and self-centered, only thinking about how things look and if others will judge their family. It seems like he may care about Gemma (at least we think so), but he certainly doesn't act like it. He likes to wear his class and position in society in plain view because he finds his worth through what others think of him. As far as siblings go, he and Gemma don't have a whole lot in common.

Virginia Doyle a.k.a. Mary Dowd

Virginia Doyle a.k.a. Mary Dowd is Gemma's mom, and she turns out to be wicked cool, as well as, you know, truly wicked (being a murderer and all), though she is also pretty darn loveable. She regrets what she did to Carolina when she was at Spence herself, and tried her best to live a decent, valuable, and honorable life in India, raising her two kids as a normal woman and not a witch.

But as far as you run, you can't escape who you are—especially if you have superpowers—and her past eventually catches up with her. She dies for Gemma's sake, though, and also to save the world from evil and destruction, so when all is told, we forgive her for killing an innocent child when she was younger. But do you?

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