Meagles is a jovial, convivial man who puts his family above all else. A self-made businessman, he likes to think of himself as practical. However, in reality he gets worked up about things and this clouds his judgement, making him not very practical at all. Meagles is particularly discomforted by the idea of Pet marrying Henry Gowan and also by the idea of the stranger, Miss Wade, holding influence over his vulnerable servant girl, Tattycoram.
Mrs Meagles is a simple, good-hearted soul who enjoys being a doting wife and mother. Like her husband and daughter, she is well-meaning but not always as sensitive as she might be – in particular, not always stopping to consider how it might feel for the family’s young servant girl, Tattycoram, to be bossed around quite as much as she is. However, she considers Tatty to be one of the family and would be devastated if anything happened to her.
Pet is the ridiculously pretty and thoroughly spoilt daughter of self-made Mr Meagles. Not deliberately cruel, she can nevertheless be thoughtless in the way that only spoilt people can be – particularly in the way she treats her young servant, Tattycoram. Pet is giddy with the excitement of having two suitors, Henry Gowan and Arthur Clennam but, in choosing between them, she is faced with the first life-changing decision of her life.
Tattycoram is a young servant girl who’s 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.
Doyce is an engineer and an inventor. He is a man contented with life – his work and his loyal friends (namely the Meagleses) offer him all that he needs. He may be a bachelor but he’s sensitive to affairs of the heart – he is a support to Arthur over the conundrum with Pet. He is a wise, kind and solid man and a good judge of character.