Mr. Dombey is the head of the shipping and export firm Dombey & Son. He is married twice, first to Fanny, who dies at the beginning of the novel, and then later to Edith. He is the father of two children, Paul Junior and Florence, but his feelings for them are very unequal. He loves Paul almost obsessively, but is disinterested in, and even cruel towards, Florence. Mr. Dombey is extremely proud of his position and family name, and the novel traces the story of him coming to be humbled and finally understand the true nature of love.
Florence is the eldest child of Mr. Dombey and Fanny Dombey. She is the older sister of little Paul, and becomes Edith's stepdaughter. Much of the novel's plot traces her growth from a child into a woman. Throughout, Florence remains steadfastly good, loving, and patient. She marries Walter after he returns from being lost at sea, and at the end of the novel, she is the mother to two children, a boy and a girl.
Mrs. Fanny Dombey
The first wife of Mr. Dombey and mother of Florence and Paul. She dies at the beginning of the novel after giving birth to Paul. She is described as being a meek and docile character, but she shows great love to her daughter in her final moments.
Paul Dombey Junior (Little Paul)
Paul is the son of Mr. Dombey, and the pride and joy of Dombey's life. He is expected to inherit the firm of Dombey & Son and continue the family lineage. Paul is a very frail and sickly child. He is also very precocious and wise beyond his years. He dies at age 6, causing great grief to his father and sister.
Mrs. Louisa Chick
Mrs. Chick is the sister of Mr. Paul Dombey, and aunt to Florence and little Paul. She is the good friend of Miss Lucretia Tox, whom she introduces into the Dombey circle. Mrs. Chick is very proud of the Dombey family identity, and tends to side with her brother in everything. After Mr. Dombey's loss of fortune, however, the two are estranged because she criticizes him for having been careless with the family business.
The mild-mannered husband of Mrs. Chick, brother-in-law of Mr. Paul Dombey.
Miss Lucretia Tox
She is initially the good friend of Mrs. Chick, and as a result gets to know Mr. Dombey. She falls in love with him and secretly hopes that they will eventually marry; therefore, she is very upset when she learns that he is engaged to Edith. Her friendship with Mrs. Chick ends at this time due to Mrs. Chick being shocked to discover Miss Tox was harboring romantic feelings for Dombey. Miss Tox is the neighbor of Major Bagstock, and does not return the attraction he feels for her, which is what leads to Bagstock seeking out Dombey as his romantic rival. Miss Tox remains loyal in her affection to Dombey throughout the novel, even after his loss of fortune, despite long periods of no contact, and at the end of the novel, the two are close friends.
Edith Granger Dombey
Edith is the daughter of Mrs. Skewton; when she first encounters Mr. Dombey, she is a widow who has also lost a young child. She is initially Edith Granger, but becomes Edith Dombey when she marries Mr. Dombey. Edith is very beautiful but also proud, reserved, and tormented. She is very unhappy in her marriage and eventually tricks Carker into believing that she wants to run away with him. While most of the world assumes she is guilty of having an affair with Carker, she in fact hates him, and only uses the ploy to escape from her unhappy marriage to Dombey. Edith feels a deep affection towards Florence and feels very protective of her stepdaughter. It is eventually revealed that Edith is the cousin of Alice Marwood; their fathers were brothers.
James Carker (Carker the Manager)
Carker occupies an important position in the Dombey firm, and is greatly trusted by Mr. Dombey. However, he is devious and manipulative, and secretly hates his employer. Carker makes many of the characters he encounters, including Florence and Edith, and is very uncomfortable and fearful. Carker has two siblings: an elder brother, John, and a sister, Harriet. John also works at Dombey & Son but has a much lower position due to having been caught stealing from his employer years before. Carker has never forgiven his brother, and frequently humiliates him. Years earlier, Carker also had an affair with a beautiful but impoverished young woman named Alice Marwood. When he tired of her, he abandoned her, forcing her into prostitution and theft. Carker's position as Dombey's trusted friend makes him privy to many intimate details of the marriage between Edith and Mr. Dombey. He becomes very attracted to Edith and also desires to humiliate Dombey. He hatches a plan with her for what he believes will be an elopement, but when the two meet to continue their journey, she tells him that she despises him and that she was only ever pretending to be willing to have an affair with him. Carker at this point is terrified of what will happen if Dombey finds him and becomes very paranoid. While trying to flee to a hiding place in England, he is confronted by Dombey at a railway station, and in a panic, he falls onto the tracks, is hit by a train, and dies.
John Carker (Carker the Junior)
John Carker is the elder brother of James Carker, Dombey's villainous manager, and also the brother of Harriet. He works at the Dombey firm and years earlier was caught stealing. He was allowed to stay on, and ever since then has been very humble and quiet, working steadily and faithfully to redeem himself. John Carker is eventually fired after his brother elopes with Edith Dombey, but is saved from financial ruin twice: first when Mr Morfin provides him with money and a new position, and a second time when he inherits the fortune of his brother after James Carker's death. He and Harriet use this money to secretly provide funds to Mr. Dombey after he loses his fortune.
Harriet is the brother of James and John, and is generous and kind. After John is disgraced for stealing, she decides to stand by him even though it means committing to a life of poverty. She comes to have a secret friend and protector in the form of Mr. Morfin, Mr. Dombey's other senior manager, whom she eventually marries. Harriet also shows great kindness to Alice Marwood, the discarded mistress of James Carker, and nurses her up until the time of Alice's death.
Mr. Morfin is the assistant manager at the Dombey firm, second only in position to James Carker. He is very quiet and watchful, and over time observes many of the devious dealings of Carker. He also comes to be sympathetic to John and Harriet and takes on the role of protecting them lest they suffer due to their brother's wrongdoings. At the end of the novel, he marries Harriet.
Mr. Perch works at the Dombey firm as a messenger; he likes to be involved in gossip and scandal, and tries to know everything he can.
Solomon (Sol) Gills
Sol owns a shop called the Wooden Midshipman, which sells instruments used in sailing and navigation. He is the uncle of Walter Gay, for whom he cares and whom he loves like a son. After Walter's disappearance at sea, Sol cannot accept that his nephew is dead, and travels to the West Indies to look for him. Although Sol faithfully keeps in touch with his friend Captain Ned Cuttle, confusion results in the letters going undelivered, which leads to fears that Sol himself may have been lost at sea. Sol returns happily at the end of the novel, and he and Cuttle become business partners.
Walter is the orphaned nephew of Sol Gills. He is always very honorable and protective; he first meets Florence when she becomes lost as a young child, and his desire to care for her never changes. Walter is sent away to the West Indies at Mr. Dombey's request, and is absent for much of the novel after his ship is wrecked and he is presumed dead. When he returns to England, Florence falls in love with him and the two get married.
Captain Ned Cuttle
Captain Cuttle is a retired sea captain who is a good friend of Sol Gills. He also develops a great deal of affection for Walter and Florence. When Sol leaves in search of Walter, Captain Cuttle is left in charge of his shop, and at the end of the novel the two become business partners.
Major Joseph (Joey) Bagstock
Major Bagstock is the neighbor of Miss Tox and has romantic feelings for her, which leads to curiosity when he realizes she is in love with Mr Dombey. He eventually befriends Dombey out of curiosity, and plays an instrumental role in introducing Dombey and Edith.
An unnamed servant of non-English heritage who works for Major Bagstock.
A young man who first makes the acquaintance of Florence and Paul Dombey because he is a pupil at the same school as Paul. He goes on to inherit a substantial amount of money, and tries to court Florence, remaining loyal and devoted to her even after she turns down his proposal. He eventually marries Susan Nipper.
A pupil at Blimber's school, and schoolmate of Paul Dombey.
A pupil at Blimber's school, and schoolmate of Paul Dombey.
A young man of rough manners who becomes good friends with Toots.
Miss Susan Nipper
Florence's nursemaid. She is fiercely loyal and protective of Florence, and ends up being fired after she criticizes Mr. Dombey for the way he treats his daughter. She is eventually reunited with Florence and ends up marrying Toots.
Doctor Parker Peps
The doctor who assists with the birth of Paul Dombey. He is known for having aristocratic and wealthy patients.
The doctor who regularly treats the Dombey family.
The nurse who assisted with the births of both Florence and Paul.
Polly Toodle (Richards)
A woman recruited by Miss Tox to act as Paul’s nurse after the death of his mother. She has many children of her own, including Rob (Rob the Grinder).
Polly’s husband and the father of their children.
Polly’s sister who cares for the Toodle children while Polly works at the Dombey house.
A servant in the Dombey household.
Rob (Biler) Toodle/Rob the Grinder
Polly Toodle’s eldest son, who is sent to school as a charitable Grinder. He eventually works for Carker as a spy, and is subsequently bribed by Mrs. Brown to reveal the location of Carker so that Dombey can pursue him.
Old Mrs. Brown
An impoverished old woman who makes a living through theft and begging. She tricks Florence and steals her expensive clothes when Florence is a young child. Mrs. Brown is the mother of Alice Marwood, and once she is reunited with her daughter, the two plot to punish Carker. Mrs. Brown is very greedy and willing to do anything in pursuit of money. After he death of Alice, she is entrusted to the care of Harriet Carker.
Paul’s second nurse, hired after Richards is fired.
The owner of the home for children in Brighton where Paul and Florence live before Paul begins school.
Mrs. Pipchin’s niece, who helps her run the school at Brighton.
The broker to whom Solomon Gills owes money.
The young son of a friend of Master Bagstock; he lives at Brighton at Miss Pipchin’s and is used as a pretext for a visit when Bagstock wants an opportunity to get close to Mr Dombey.
The widowed mother of Edith Granger Dombey. She is very vain and preoccupied with trying to preserve her youth.
The head of the school that Paul attends at Brighton.
Doctor Blimber’s assistant. At the end of the novel, he marries Cornelia, the daughter of Dr. Blimber, and takes over the running of the school.
Doctor Blimber’s daughter. She later marries his assistant, Mr. Feeder.
The wife of Doctor Blimber, who helps him with running the school.
The young page boy who attends Mrs. Skewton and Edith.
The landlady of Captain Cuttles. Cuttles is very afraid of her, and his desire to avoid her leads to his not receiving letters from Sol Gills. At the end of the novel, she marries Bunsby.
A commander of a ship and experienced sea man, to whom Cuttle turns for advice and guidance about Walter and Sol.
The pew-opener at the church where a number of Dombey family solemnities (marriages, funerals and christening take place.
The beadle at the local church.
A relative of Edith and Mrs. Skewton, who lends them his house to live in prior to the wedding and gives away the bride at the ceremony. He also later arranges the brief visit between Edith and Florence.
Mrs. Skewton’s maid.
The daughter of Mrs. Brown, she was formerly Carker's mistress. After he abandoned her, she resorted to prostitution and theft and was eventually arrested and deported to Australia. When she returns, she seeks revenge on Carker, but she eventually repents and tries to warn him that Dombey is coming after him. It is eventually revealed that Alice is Edith's cousin. She dies peacefully after being nursed by Harriet Carker.
Sir Barnet Skettles
A wealthy friend of the Dombey family. Florence stays at his family home, and there are initially hopes she will marry his young son.
The wife of Sir Barnet.
The young son of Sir Barnet and Lady Skettles. He is a pupil at Dr. Blimber's school.
Dombey and Son Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Dombey and Son is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Mr. Dombey, the wealthy head of the shipping company Dombey & Son, is delighted with the birth of his son, an event he has long hoped for. He makes it clear that he already prefers his son to his six-year-old daughter, Florence. His sister,...