One of the wealthy New York families of whom Lily is a cousin.
The protagonist, the book follows her as she tries unsuccessfully to marry Percy Gryce. Her friendship with Selden almost leads to marriage, but she continually is seen spending time with married men, causing rumors and stories that make her seem immoral. She is kicked off of the Dorset yacht by Bertha Dorset when Bertha becomes afraid that her marriage may be in trouble. After being cut out of Mrs. Peniston's will, Lily moves downward through the social circles until she is even forced to work for a living. Her death ends the novel.
Mrs. Hudson Bart
Lily's mother, a woman who lives beyond her means. After the father's financial ruin she and Lily are forced to live with relatives, but she dies soon thereafter.
Lily's father, he goes bankrupt when she is nineteen and dies soon thereafter.
The wealthy location owned by the Trenors and where Lily Bart is heading at the beginning of the novel.
One of the up and coming families that Carrie Fisher is helping introduce into the elite society. Lily wins their favor by setting them up with the Duchess while at Monte Carlo.
Lord Hubert Dacey
One of the European aristocracy spending time in Monte Carlo, he is often asked to help arrange meetings with the Duchess of Beltshire.
Bertha George Dorset
A large woman who enters the same train car that Lily and Percy Gryce share, thereby interrupting their conversation. She later tells Percy information about Lily that causes him to not marry her. After she and Lily make up their friendship, she invites Lily to spend time on the Dorset's yacht, but later in Monte Carlo kicks Lily off the boat, starting the decline in Lily's social fortunes.
A dull man whom Lily entertains quite well, he considers divorcing his wife when she spends too much time with Ned Silverton, but chooses to keep the marriage intact.
Duchess of Beltshire
A woman whom most of the wealthy Americans are eager to meet as part of their social ascension.
Selden's cousin, she lives alone in her own apartment, a sign that she will remain a spinster her whole life. She and Lily become good friends after Lily is disinherited, and Gerty provides Lily with a place to stay.
One of the social elite, she is wealthy from having been married and divorced twice. She helps introduce the Wellington Brys into fashionable New York society. Later she helps Lily by inviting her to join the Gormers after Lily has been disinherited.
A rich man who has not joined the uppermost social elite. Lily goes to join his family after being disinherited by her aunt.
Sam Gormer's wife, she is more inclined to continue her upward social progress and uses Lily to help her do it.
A young bachelor, the inheritor of the largest Americana collection in the world. Lily tries to marry him at the beginning, but Mrs. Dorset tells him things about Lily that make him run away from her, thereby ending her chances of marrying into a fortune.
Percy Gryce's mother, she is a socialite who brought her son to New York in order to ensure that he would become part of the social elite.
The charwoman that Lily first encounters in the Benedick and later in her aunt's house. The woman has letters written by Bertha Dorset to Selden and sells them to Lily in return for money.
Mrs. Norma Hatch
The woman that Lily goes to work for after she has become nearly bankrupt. Her goal is to help Mrs. Hatch advance socially, however, she soon realizes that Mrs. Hatch is trying to marry one of the Van Osburghs and leaves her.
An artist and painter who is hired by many of the wealthy to do portraits of them.
Evie Van Osburgh
A daughter of Mrs. Van Osburgh; she ends up marrying Percy Gryce.
Freddie Van Osburgh
The male heir to the Van Osburgh fortune, he runs around with Ned Silverton and almost ends up marrying Mrs. Hatch before being sent off to Europe.
Gwen Van Osburgh
The daughter of Mrs. Van Osburgh, she is one of the top social elite and very conspicuous. She marries Jack Stepney and together they form one of the top families in the social hierarchy.
Maria Van Osburgh
The mother of the Van Osburgh family, probably the wealthiest of the New York set.
Lily's aunt who invites Lily to live with her after she becomes an orphan. She later disinherits Lily when she finds out that her niece has incurred gambling debts.
Lady Cressida Raith
A woman that Mrs. Trenor invites to her party in order to beat out the Van Osburgh family. She turns out to be a bore.
A Jewish man who is quite wealthy and who aspires to join the social elite of New York. He considers marrying Lily after seeing her at the Wellington Bry's party, but she rejects him until it is too late.
Selden is a good friend of Lily. He thinks of marrying her at one point, and constantly causes her to consider rejecting her chosen lifestyle for something less boring. After seeing her emerge from the Trenor's house, Selden thinks she was having an affair and rejects marrying her. He meets her several times and arrives at the end to view her lying dead in her room.
A poet who becomes Carrie Fisher's lover and gets drawn into the elite social circle. He soon becomes Bertha Dorset's lover and is the reason the Dorset's almost break up, a scandal that involves Lily getting kicked off of the Dorset yacht.
Lily's cousin and a good friend of Mrs. Peniston. She inherits the bulk of Mrs. Peniston's estate, thereby causing Lily to remain poor.
Lily Bart's cousin, he is in debt to Rosedale and therefore serves as one of the people Rosedale uses to enter New York social circles. He later marries Gwen Van Osburgh and becomes one of the wealthiest men.
One of the women that Lily helped when she was still wealthy; she met the woman through Gerty's charity work. Nettie tells her that she saved her life and brings Lily back to her place to warm up.
A wealthy man who supports his wife and family; he loans Lily money but expects sexual favors in return. When Lily rejects his advances he gets mad at her, but does not harm her.
The hostess of the first party Lily attends in Bellomont, she is a born hostess who competes with the Van Osburghs for the best parties. She is good friends with Lily and tries to set Lily up with Percy Gryce, but after Lily starts borrowing money from her husband their friendship falls apart.
One of the elite families who are in the social graces and therefore invited to the parties.
House of Mirth Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for House of Mirth is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think that if things had worked out, they would have made an excellent match. They had plenty of chemistry, and they respected each other. There was also passion, which was kept in check by their fights. Marriage between the two would have been...