Main characters, Small Island

Characters in small island and thier traits and what this shows

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  • Created by: Elizabeth
  • Created on: 15-05-12 12:37

Hortense Joseph (nee Roberts)

  • Has high expectations of England and Gilbert- reflected in her name she is both 'haughty' and 'tense'. Also her high expectations become ironic towards the end of the play, as she describes Gilbert as a 'fool' when in fact she is the fool (cupboard).
  • Fails to raise her standing in the class order by using proper pronunciation- shows multiculturalism and Levy's embrace of this. Not different because she's black, she tries to change herself as she sees herself higher class. She struggles to realise why they don't understand her pronunciation- ironic because it is her who does not understand the difference between Britain and Jamaica.
  • Told she cannot teach in England though she was a teacher in Jamaica.- emphasises Hortense's lack of understanding the difference between Jamaica and Britain. Shows that although she aspired to come to Britain because of her dream of a better life, the direction she was heading in in Jamaica (teaching) is in fact unacheivable in Britain.
  • Queenie gives her and Gilbert Michael (Queenie's son) shows prejudice that is still there for a white woman with black children. Gives Hortense a different path of life to teaching.
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Queenie Bligh (nee Buxton)

  • Independent- despite her marriage and her affair Queenie is independent, she makes all her decisions in the novel on her own though they are usually based around other people
  • Used to live on farm, now on Nevern St. Difference in settings show difference in people (open-minded/narrow-minded)
  • Against discrimination- (trip to 'Africa' in prologue). Best shown in cinema incident and through affair with Michael who is black.
  • Gives Gilbert a place to live after the war- show's she's against discrimination- doesn't see him as black, sees him as homeless.
  • Lived with Auntie Dorothy (shows turning point in life- marries Bernard for convenience) 
  • Affair with Michael shows how Queenie isn't content with Bernard, perhaps shows excitement of war through their affair.
  • Becomes pregnant- showing togetherness of races (Michael's baby), baby defines each of four main characters. Also a symbol of actions having consequences.
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Gilbert Joseph

  • Hortense calls him a 'fool, fool man', he isn't fazed by this, ends up her being the fool.
  • Takes money from Hortense for passage to England in exchange for marriage and place to live. Ends up falling for her, helps her discover herself, they raise Queenie and Michael's baby together. 
  • Lots of discrimination when he joins RAF.
  • Gilbert goes to cinema with Queenie and Arthur, hight of discrimination during this and Arthur gets unintentionally shot, Gilbert blames himself. 
  • Returns to Queenie after war for place to live.
  • Gilbert and Hortense end up adopting Michael from Queenie and Gilbert shows his true talents and his caring nature- buys Hortense a house. 
  • Character is defined by what happens in his life (goes to London, returns to Jamaica, returns to London, moves out with Hortense)
  • Gilbert's meeting with Queenie is significant as compares him to Michael showing the involuntary prejudice of Bernard's father and so of Bernard.
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Bernard Bligh

  • Meets Queenie in Aunt Dorothy's shop where he goes everyday, proposes to her and she accepts through convenience. 
  • Bernard opposite of Queenie; doesn't embrace multiculturism; uninteresting; racist.
  • Volunteers for RAF to 'prove himself', assigned to India, takes huge learning curve whilst in India, predominantly after the death of Maxi.
  • Sleeps with young prostiture in India- realisation of his life.
  • Goes to back to England to Brighton where Maxi lived for three years, then returns to Nevern St. Unhappy with Black lodgers, unhappy that Queenie didn't tell him about Arthur's death. Sleeps in seperate room to Queenie involunarily. 
  • Sees that Queenie is pregnant, kicks out Gilbert and Hortense.
  • Reluctant to let Queenie give away baby Michael. Eventually she does.

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Danica Arthur-Asante


Good luck tomorrow!

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