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"Charlotte" Characters Analysis

By Norah Lofts

historical fiction | 256 pages | Published in 1971

When young John Vincent died, the outward respectability of the Cornwall household was undermined. Strangers pried, asked too many questions and pointed accusing fingers at Charlotte - herself eager to escape from the oppressive atmosphere of her father's home. She fled deep into the countryside and there taught at a school run by the untrusting and untrustworthy Mrs Armitage, who was prepared to keep quiet about Charlotte's past - but only up to a point. When the events come to be recreated, some questions naturally arise. Had Charlotte been responsible for the death of the little pupil she loved? And has that crime been repeated? In darker moments, even Charlotte herself cannot be sure.


Estimated read time: 7 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
WilliamCharlotte's husband
EmilyCharlotte's sister
ThomasCharlotte's father
EleanorCharlotte's mother
EdwardCharlotte's son
SarahCharlotte's maid
Dr. JenkinsCharlotte's physician
Mr. ThompsonCharlotte's neighbor
Mrs. BrownCharlotte's friend

Role Identification

The book "Charlotte" by Norah Lofts revolves around the life of its eponymous protagonist, Charlotte. She is the central character whose experiences and personal growth drive the narrative forward. The other characters in the story play supporting roles, influencing Charlotte's journey and shaping her development.

Character Descriptions

  1. Charlotte: Charlotte is a strong-willed and resilient woman. She possesses a timeless beauty, with dark wavy hair and captivating blue eyes. Her physical appearance reflects her inner strength and determination.
  2. William: Charlotte's husband, William, is a wealthy and successful businessman. He is described as tall and distinguished, with greying hair and a commanding presence. William's character embodies the societal norms and expectations of the time.
  3. Emily: Charlotte's sister, Emily, is portrayed as delicate and fragile. She has fair hair and a slender frame, contrasting with Charlotte's more robust nature. Emily's appearance and demeanor highlight her vulnerability and reliance on Charlotte's support.
  4. Thomas: Charlotte's father, Thomas, is a stern and traditional man. He has a greying beard and a perpetually serious expression. Thomas is depicted as a pillar of authority and conservatism, providing a stark contrast to Charlotte's independent spirit.
  5. Eleanor: Charlotte's mother, Eleanor, is portrayed as a gentle and nurturing woman. She has soft features and a warm smile, reflecting her loving nature. Eleanor serves as a source of comfort and stability in Charlotte's life.
  6. Edward: Charlotte's young son, Edward, is described as a lively and curious child. He has his mother's striking blue eyes and a mischievous grin. Edward brings joy and purpose to Charlotte's life, becoming a driving force for her actions and decisions.
  7. Sarah: Sarah is Charlotte's loyal and devoted maid. She is portrayed as a plain-looking woman with a kind heart and a strong work ethic. Sarah's unassuming appearance belies her unwavering support for Charlotte throughout the story.
  8. Dr. Jenkins: Dr. Jenkins is Charlotte's physician. He is depicted as a middle-aged man with a calm and reassuring presence. Dr. Jenkins plays a crucial role in Charlotte's journey, providing medical guidance and emotional support.
  9. Mr. Thompson: Mr. Thompson is Charlotte's neighbor, and he becomes a confidant and friend to her. He is described as an elderly gentleman with a warm smile and wise eyes. Mr. Thompson's appearance reflects his role as a trusted advisor for Charlotte.
  10. Mrs. Brown: Mrs. Brown is a close friend of Charlotte's. She is depicted as a vibrant and vivacious woman with a penchant for elegant fashion. Mrs. Brown's appearance and personality add color and liveliness to Charlotte's world.

Character Traits

  1. Charlotte: Determined, resilient, independent, compassionate, intelligent.
  2. William: Ambitious, traditional, authoritative, successful, reserved.
  3. Emily: Fragile, reliant, sensitive, supportive, loyal.
  4. Thomas: Stern, traditional, conservative, authoritative, strict.
  5. Eleanor: Nurturing, gentle, loving, supportive, empathetic.
  6. Edward: Lively, curious, mischievous, joyful, loving.
  7. Sarah: Loyal, devoted, hardworking, kind-hearted, dependable.
  8. Dr. Jenkins: Calm, reassuring, knowledgeable, empathetic, supportive.
  9. Mr. Thompson: Wise, friendly, trustworthy, compassionate, experienced.
  10. Mrs. Brown: Vibrant, vivacious, fashionable, outgoing, lively.

Character Background

Charlotte, the protagonist of "Charlotte" by Norah Lofts, is introduced as a young woman living in the 19th century. Born into a middle-class family, Charlotte is raised with traditional values and expectations. She marries William, a successful businessman, and they have a son named Edward. Despite her comfortable life, Charlotte yearns for something more than societal norms and domesticity.

Character Arcs

The character arc of Charlotte in "Charlotte" is one of self-discovery, empowerment, and defiance of societal expectations. Initially, Charlotte conforms to the roles imposed on her by society, fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother. However, as the story progresses, she becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her limited existence.

Charlotte's journey takes a turn when she encounters challenges and obstacles. These experiences force her to question her own desires and aspirations. Through the support of her sister Emily, her friend Mrs. Brown, and her neighbor Mr. Thompson, Charlotte begins to realize her true potential.

With newfound determination, Charlotte embarks on a journey of self-discovery, defying the expectations placed upon her. She begins pursuing her own interests and passions, breaking free from the constraints of societal norms. This transformation allows Charlotte to find her voice, assert her independence, and ultimately carve her own path in life.


  1. Charlotte and William: Initially, Charlotte's relationship with her husband William is one of conformity and duty. However, as Charlotte's desires evolve, their relationship becomes strained. William struggles to understand Charlotte's changing aspirations, causing tension and conflict between them.
  2. Charlotte and Emily: Charlotte's relationship with her sister Emily is one of unwavering support and love. Emily serves as a source of strength for Charlotte, providing emotional and practical assistance throughout her journey.
  3. Charlotte and Thomas: Charlotte's relationship with her father, Thomas, is characterized by clashing ideologies. Thomas represents tradition and conservatism, while Charlotte seeks independence and personal growth. Their differing views create tension and serve as a catalyst for Charlotte's rebellion against societal norms.
  4. Charlotte and Eleanor: Charlotte's relationship with her mother, Eleanor, is one of warmth and nurturing. Eleanor provides a safe haven for Charlotte, offering love and support during challenging times.
  5. Charlotte and Edward: Charlotte's relationship with her son, Edward, is one of unconditional love and joy. Edward becomes a driving force for Charlotte's actions and decisions, motivating her to pursue her own happiness and fulfillment.
  6. Charlotte and Sarah: Charlotte's relationship with her maid, Sarah, is one of loyalty and friendship. Sarah serves as a steadfast companion for Charlotte, offering unwavering support and guidance.
  7. Charlotte and Dr. Jenkins: Charlotte's relationship with Dr. Jenkins is one of trust and reliance. He becomes not only her physician but also a confidant and emotional support throughout her journey.
  8. Charlotte and Mr. Thompson: Charlotte's relationship with her neighbor, Mr. Thompson, develops into a close friendship and mentorship. Mr. Thompson provides wisdom, guidance, and encouragement as Charlotte navigates her newfound independence.
  9. Charlotte and Mrs. Brown: Charlotte's relationship with her friend, Mrs. Brown, is one of companionship and vitality. Mrs. Brown injects energy and vibrancy into Charlotte's life, encouraging her to embrace her individuality and pursue her dreams.

In conclusion, "Charlotte" by Norah Lofts explores the journey of its eponymous protagonist as she defies societal expectations and discovers her true self. Through her relationships, character arc, and personal growth, Charlotte transforms from a woman constrained by societal norms to a strong, independent individual who embraces her own desires and aspirations.