The Age of Innocence

Minor characters

  • Christine Nilsson: A famous singer who performs in an opera on the night of Archer and May's engagement. She sings in the same opera two years later.
  • Mrs. Lovell Mingott: May and Ellen's aunt, and the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Manson Mingott.
  • Lawrence Lefferts: A wealthy young man and a member of Archer's social circle. He is considered the expert on manners. Archer believes that Lefferts is behind New York society's rude refusal to attend the welcome dinner for Ellen. According to Archer, Lefferts makes a big show of his morality every time that his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Lefferts, suspects that he is having an affair.
  • Sillerton Jackson: The expert on the families that make up New York society. He knows who is related to whom, and the history of every important family. Mrs. Archer and Janey invite him over for dinner when they want to catch up on gossip.
  • Julius Beaufort: An arrogant British banker who tries to have an affair with Ellen. He even follows her to Skuytercliff during the weekend that Archer goes to visit Ellen. His banking business eventually fails, and he leaves New York society in disgrace. His downfall is probably inspired by the Panic of 1873.
  • Regina Beaufort: Julius Beaufort's wife and Mrs. Manson Mingott's niece. She comes to Mrs. Mingott to ask for a loan when her husband's bank fails. Her visit causes Mrs. Mingott to have a stroke.
  • Janey Archer: Archer's dowdy, unmarried sister who never goes out and relies on Archer. She and her mother invite guests to dinner so they can gossip about New York society. Janey disapproves of Ellen, because she is unconventional and independent, and does not simply tolerate her husband's abuse.
  • Mrs. Adeline Archer: Archer's widowed mother. She does not get out to events often, but loves to hear about society. She and Janey strongly believe in the values of New York society. Like Janey, she views Ellen with suspicion. Henry van der Luyden is her cousin. She is said to be based partly on Edith Wharton's own mother, Lucretia Rhinelander.
  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers: A woman on the fringes of New York society. She is treated with mistrust and scorn until Ellen befriends her. She eventually becomes popular; at the end of the novel, May thinks it appropriate to go to her parties.
  • Count Olenski: Ellen's husband, a dissolute aristocrat who drove Ellen away with neglect and misery. At first, Count Olenski is content to let Ellen go. Later, though, he sends his secretary to America to ask Ellen to return, with the stipulation that she only appear as his hostess occasionally. He never appears in the story, but is described as half paralyzed and very pale, with thick feminine eyelashes. He constantly cheats on Ellen, and a veiled remark of Lefferts' implies that he copulates with men, too. What other abuses and infidelities he commits are unknown, but he seems quite malicious.
  • Sophy Jackson: Sillerton Jackson's unmarried sister. She is a friend of Janey and Mrs. Archer.
  • Louisa and Henry van der Luyden: Cousins of the Archers, and the most powerful people in New York society. They only mingle with people when they are trying to save society. Mrs. Archer goes to the Van der Luydens after New York society snubs Ellen. They invite her to a very exclusive party in honor of the Duke of St. Austrey to show society that they support her. They are said to be based on the Van Rensselaers, who were cousins of Edith Wharton.
  • Duke of St Austrey: An English Duke. A cousin of the Van der Luydens, he is the guest of honor at a dinner party thrown by them. Both Ellen and Archer find him dull.
  • Nastasia: Ellen's Italian maid. She invites Archer and the other guests to wait in Ellen's sitting room.
  • Mr. Letterblair: The senior partner of Archer's law firm. He gives Archer the responsibility of talking Ellen out of her plans to divorce the Count.
  • Mrs. Rushworth: The vain, foolish married woman with whom Archer had an affair before his engagement to May.
  • Ned Winsett: A journalist. He and Archer are friends, despite their different social circles. He is one of the few people with whom Archer feels that he can have a meaningful conversation. Ned Winsett challenges Archer to think of things outside society.
  • Reggie Chivers: An important member of society. Archer spends a weekend at their country home on the Hudson River.
  • Marchioness Medora Manson: The aunt who took Ellen to Europe as a child. She now lives in Washington, where Ellen goes to take care of her. During a visit to New York, she tries to persuade Archer to convince Ellen that she should return to the Count. Beaufort's bank failure eventually ruins Mrs. Manson's fortune, and she moves back to Europe with Ellen.
  • Dr. Agathon Carver: A friend (and possible love interest) of the Marchioness Manson. Archer meets him at Ellen's house.
  • Du Lac aunts: Archer's elderly aunts. They offer their country home to May and Archer for their honeymoon.
  • Mrs. Carfry: An English acquaintance of Janey and Mrs. Archer. She invites Archer and May to a dinner party while they are on their European wedding tour.
  • M. Rivière: The French tutor of Mrs. Carfry's nephew. He fascinates Archer with his life story and intellect. Later, Archer learns that he was Count Olenski's secretary and the man who helped Ellen escape her marriage. The count sends him to Boston to try to convince Ellen to return to Europe.
  • Emerson Sillerton: An unfashionable, eccentric professor who spends his summers in Newport with the rest of society. His wife throws a party for the Blenker family that no one wants to attend.
  • Blenker family: The unfashionable, socially inferior family with whom the Marchioness and Ellen stay while in Newport. They are the guests of honor at Mrs Emerson Sillerton's party, and seem to be a clever, kind bunch.
  • Miss Blenker: The youngest daughter of the Blenker family. When Archer visits her empty family's house on the day of Mrs Sillerton's party, she is there. Archer briefly confuses her with Ellen, and she flirts with him. Through Miss Blenker, Archer learns that Ellen has gone to Boston.
  • Dallas Archer: May and Archer's eldest child. He takes his father on a trip to Europe. Through Dallas, Archer learns that May felt sorry for his empty heart after Ellen left.
  • Fanny Beaufort: Dallas Archer's fiancée and the daughter of Julius Beaufort and his second wife. She asks Dallas to visit Ellen while he and Archer are in Paris.

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