The Princesse de Cleves

Characters

  • Mademoiselle de Chartres/Madame de Clèves - The Princess around whom the story is told. The daughter of Madame de Chartres and the niece of the Vidame de Chartres, she struggles throughout the novel with her duty as a wife to Monsieur de Clèves and her untimely love for the Duke de Nemours.
  • Madame de Chartres - The mother of the Princess of Clèves. She supports the marriage between her daughter and Monsieur de Clèves and warns her daughter against loving the Duke de Nemours. Her death marks a turning point for the princess as she struggles with her love.
  • Monsieur de Clèves - The husband of the Princess de Clèves. He is described in the novel as having "prudence rare in the young” and, although lacking in exciting characteristics in comparison with the Duke de Nemours, has financial and social stability in the court. These characteristics make Monsieur de Clèves an attractive suitor in the eyes of Madame de Chartres, the mother of the Princess. Although the Princess is never truly in love with him, Monsieur de Clèves is madly in love with the Princess, which ultimately leads to his despair after finding out about the Duke de Nemours.
  • Monsieur de Nemours - The dashing "chef d’oeuvre de la nature" with whom the Princess de Clèves falls madly in love. His own obsession with the Princess drives him to take many advances, despite the fact that she is already married to Monsieur de Clèves. (The historical Duke at the time of Henri II was Jacques of Savoy, 2nd Duke of Nemours.)
  • The King Henri II - The King of France. This character is believed to be a representation of King Louis XIV.
  • Chevalier de Guise - A young knight who is madly in love with the Princess de Clèves.
  • Madame de Tournon - A lady of the court who manages to have an affair with two men, Estouteville and the Count de Sancerre.
  • Vidame de Chartres - The uncle of the Princess de Clèves and a friend of the Duke de Nemours. The Duke often uses the Vidame as a way to his niece, the Princess, and in one case, takes blame for a letter that had fallen from the Vidame's pocket in order to secure his good grace.

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