Self-confessed cold-blooded murderer, Rigaud, is the villain of our story. He is by turns extremely charming and darkly menacing, whichever the situation demands. He is an opportunist who roams about Europe looking for innocent and unsuspecting victims to sink his teeth into – whether to rob, blackmail or cheat. He is completely undiscriminating in his choice of who to prey on.
Henry Gowan will do whatever he can to ensure himself an easy life. He’s distantly related to the distinguished, aristocratic Barnacle family, but he’s a poor relation and therefore, much to his irritation, he has to earn his own living. He calls himself an Artist but shows little dedication to the profession. He set his sights on the pretty Pet Meagles but finds a rival for her affections in Arthur Clennam.
Cavalletto is a cheerful and chirpy Italian – the kind of person everyone takes a shine to. He is a petty crook but not a dedicated criminal – given half the chance, he would much rather earn his money honestly. At the start of the story, he finds himself the unfortunate cellmate of the terrifying Rigaud and, upon his release from prison, he continues to live in fear of ever encountering Rigaud again.
Unlike her rapacious father, Mr Casby, Flora is a kind and generous, if occasionally overbearing, soul. She and Arthur Clennam were once childhood sweethearts but, due to circumstances beyond her control, she ended up marrying and is now the widow of a Mr Finching. Flora is still in love with Arthur and spends her time concocting ways to win him back, seemingly in denial about the fact that he no longer has feelings for her.
Mrs General is a triumph of genteel respectability. A widow, she has set herself up as a ‘companion to ladies’. She hates to be thought of as a working woman and when Mr Dorrit employs her to ‘finish’ his daughters, she adopts the pretence that she is a friend of the family, rather than a governess. She is extremely strict about decorum, putting Amy and Fanny through a gruelling training regime.
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.