The Dorrit Household.
William Dorrit is a gentile middle aged man who has run up large debts and as a consequence been confined to a debtors prison called the Marshalsea. He lives there with his daughters, Amy, Fanny and Tip. The longest serving inmate of the prison, he is extremely proud of his title, ‘Father of the Marshalsea’, and the respect he gains.
Amy, otherwise known as Little Dorrit, lives in the Marshalsea Prison with her father. Although born and bred in the Marshalsea, Amy is far from being downtrodden and has grown up to be a gentle and kind-hearted yet young woman, fiercely loyal to her Father. She earns money for the family by going out to sew and eventually finds employment in the household of the wealthy Mrs Clennam.
The Clennam Household.
A kind and loyal man, Arthur Clennan has devoted his life to working for his parents’ business in China. However, with his Father recently deceased, he now seeks his own happiness and to start a fresh life back in England. He also intends to uncover the truth about the Clennam family’s past and to make reparations for any wrongdoing, despite facing fierce opposition from his mother.
The invalided and domineering mother of Arthur who is keeping a very big secret.
A master banker, the richest man in London, and who appears to turn everything he touches turn to gold. But his wealth turns out to be hollow and the subsequent crash has shocking and dire consequences for nearly all of the novel’s characters.
Charles Dickens based the character of Mr. Merdle on the politician and fraudster John Sadleir, who became infamous during the time Dickens was writing Liitle Dorrit.
Young servant girl who has been brought up as a companion to the beautiful and well-meaning but utterly spoilt Pet Meagles. Tattycoram is understandably resentful of her servile status and often struggles to control her anger. Whenever she flies into a rage, her employer, Mr Meagles, tries telling her to count to five and twenty, but it doesn’t work. Young and impressionable, Tatty attracts the attention of the mysterious loner, Miss Wade.
Miss Wade is an aloof and mysterious woman of independent means. Although a loner, she nevertheless takes a great interest in the young servant girl, Tattycoram, setting out to prise her away from her employers, the Meagleses, so that she can come and live with her. Although she professes to be concerned for Tattycoram’s welfare, her steely determination to woo the servant girl also betrays a self-interested and ruthless nature.