The Spectator (1711) - Characters of The Spectator

Characters of The Spectator

One of the principal conceits of The Spectator is its fictional narrator, Mr. Spectator. The first number is dedicated to his life story. Mr. Spectator speaks very little, communicating mainly through facial gestures. His unassuming profile enables him to circulate widely throughout society and fulfil his position as "spectator". He comments on the habits, foibles, and social faux pas of his fellow citizens. He also notes the irony of his volubility in prose compared to his taciturnity in daily life.

The second number of The Spectator introduces the members of the "Spectator Club", Mr. Spectator's close friends. This forms a cast of secondary characters which The Spectator can draw on in its stories and examples of social conduct. In order to foster an inclusive ethos, they are drawn from many different walks of life. The best known of these characters is Sir Roger de Coverley, an English squire of Queen Anne's reign. He exemplified the values of an old country gentleman, and was portrayed as lovable but somewhat ridiculous, making his Tory politics seem harmless but silly. Will Honeycomb is a "rake" who "is very ready at that sort of discourse with which men usually entertain women". (No. 2) He is reformed near the end of The Spectator when he marries. Andrew Freeport is a merchant, and the club also includes a general and a priest.

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