A Classics Challenge – February Prompt: Character

This month’s focus from Katherine of November’s Autumn for the Classics Challenge is on character. Write about a character you find interesting, it doesn’t have to be your favorite. Perhaps your least favorite or a minor one: choose any.

I’m answering a combination of her Level 1 and 2 questions. What phrases has the author used to introduce this character? Find a portrait or photograph that closely embodies how you imagine them.  Has your opinion of them altered? Do you find them believable? Would you want to meet them?

I read The Woman in White in January and wrote some thoughts about previously. The book has some very interesting characters and I’ve chosen to describe the villain – Count Fosco, a friend of Sir Percy Glyde.

We see him first through Marian Halcombe’s eyes (see my earlier post for her description). She is Laura’s half- sister and I think she is the real heroine of this book. She describes Fosco:

He looks like a man who could tame anything. If he had married a tigress, instead of a woman, he would have tamed the tigress.

The man has interested me, has attracted me, has forced me to like him.

he is immensely fat. Before this time I have always disliked corpulent humanity.

here, nevertheless, is Count Fosco, as fat as Henry the Eighth himself, established in my favour, at one day’s notice, without let or hindrance from his own odious corpulence. Marvellous indeed!

She is impressed most by his unfathomable grey eyes, which have a cold, beautiful, irresistible glitter and hold an extraordinary power, one which forces her to look at him and causes her sensations she would rather not feel. Although an Italian, he speaks excellent English. He is old (sixty!), but his movements are light and easy. He is very sensitive to noise and winced when Sir Percy Beat one of the spaniels – he cares for animals more than he cares for humans.

And his most curious peculiarity is his fondness for pet animals – a cockatoo, two canaries and a whole family of white mice, all of which are familiar with him. The birds sit on his fat fingers and the mice crawl all over him, popping in and out of his waistcoat. He kisses them and twitters to his birds.

Below is an illustration from the 1865 edition of the book, which doesn’t really portray him as I see him.

But this is more like it – Michael Crawford’s portrayal in the West End musical in 2004.

As for his character, Marian may be attracted to him, but he is is a true villain, completely domineering, sinister, clever and untrustworthy. He is powerful, a sensualist whose wife is completely besotted by him. Whilst it might seem from my description that Fosco is a caricature, he does come across as a believable character and certainly one I would not wish to meet.

10 thoughts on “A Classics Challenge – February Prompt: Character

  1. Good choice! C. foscoe is one of the most interesting characters in all literature, I think,and Marian’s simultaneous attraction and repugnance is brilliant, IMO.

    I enjoyed your quotes about him.

    The musical seems bizarre though–did you ever see it?


  2. The Woman In White is a favourite of mine. Count Fosco is a fabulous character. I love him. Poor Marion, she truly was both repulsed and attracted. Must have been confusing. As for the man I think he was equally attracted to Marion. He admired her intelligence and was often sorry that they were on opposing sides.


  3. I love this books too. There was a great B & W movie made years ago with Sydney Greenstreet as Fosco – he played him perfectly – it is a treat to see if you can find an old copy anywhere. Claude Raines was also in it.


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