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History Characters / CousinBette

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* Sadist: Resigned to a bowl of dust in childhood, Bette's only real pleasure comes from inflicting suffering on her own family.

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Hector's beautiful and long-suffering wife.
* DarkestHour: Attempting to seduce, and subsequently being humiliated by, Crevel.
* ExtremeDoormat: Shows nothing but limitless forgiveness and adoration towards Hector.
* GloryDays: Ten years of married bliss, during which she was the star of Napoleon's court, are often invoked.
* HeroicBSOD: Valerie making a passing mention of the 200,000 franc debt does this to her.
* HopeSpringsEternal: Is forever driven on by the thought she can redeem Hector. [[spoiler: She's wrong.]]
* TwitchyEye: Develops a nervous tremor as a result of stress.
* Woobie: Although how much you sympathise with her almost continuous suffering is contingent on how frustrating you find her submissiveness.

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[[folder:The Marshal]]
!!Marshal Hulot

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!!Josepha Mirah

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!The Hulots

The central family around which the story takes place. The Hulots are a family that arose to great prominence during the Napoleonic Era, and are now struggling to make ends meet. In many ways the book is a portrayal of how swiftly French society was changing at this time, and how savvy middle class figures such as Crevel supplanted the faded imperial nobility the Hulots represent.

!!Lisbeth Fischer

The book's great antagonist: an apparently virtuous, extremely cunning spinster.
* BigBadDuumvirate: With Valerie.
* BoringButPractical: Her seasoned ability to run household expenses in the background is how she ingratiates herself into each family, and learns about their debts. The fact nobody notices her is why she's so deadly.
* DeathByDespair: The Hulots' eventual recovery slays her. Her only satisfaction is that they all cry on her death bed, completely unaware of how she sought to destroy them.
* EvilMakesYouUgly: An interesting deconstruction. Bette's plainness is the exact reason she starts down the path of evil: she was overlooked and forced into a life of peasant drudgery whilst her beautiful sister Adeline became a baronness. Her hatred towards her because of this - and then for her daughter, who lures Steinbeck away from her - is unwavering.
* HoistByTheirOwnPetard: Bette's eventual aspiration is to marry Marshal Hulot. [[spoiler: The havoc she wreaks on the family causes the old Marshal to [[DeathByDespair literally die of shame]], right after he'd finally agreed to marry her. Bette never really recovers from this.]]
* JustFriends: How Steinbock views her [[MyBelovedSmother (although it's a slightly more complicated relationship than that).]] Being forced to confront this by Hortense's seduction of him [[VillainousBSOD is the bitterest pill Bette has to swallow.]]
* KarmaHoudini: More or less completely gets away with everything she does. Everyone believes she is their friend and an absolute saint, and nothing ever changes that. [[spoiler: It's of exactly no comfort to her, since all of her aspirations are ultimately foiled.]]
* OldMaid: One of the most famous.
* ReversePsychology: One of her most brilliant tricks is working out that people will generally do the opposite of what the fussy, fuddydud old maid says. So she's constantly advising Baron Hulot to drop Valerie, for instance.
* VillainProtagonist

!!Baron Hector Hulot

The head of the family. A once-famous general in Napoleon's Armies, the Baron's deep weakness for vice is the catalyst for much of the action.
* AssholeVictim: At some point during the book - your mileage will vary - you'll stop feeling sorry for the Baron and how he's constantly manipulated. [[spoiler: He destroys his family several times over chasing after women, he robs the state and indirectly causes the death of three relatives, he seduces minors, and when his family rescue him from the most abject circumstances, he repays them by doing it all over again, [[DeathByDespair ultimately killing his adoring wife by it.]] He's truly an utter wretch.]]
* CorruptBureaucrat: He's a high-ranking official in the French government, and becomes increasingly corrupt the higher his debts climb.
* DirtyOldMan: He can't help himself, and nobody else can either.
* TheCasanova / TheCasanovaWannabe: The Baron beds almost every non-Hulot woman in the book. The twist is that all of these women are seducing ''him'': They lead the lecherous old man on in order to drain him completely dry, particularly Valerie. [[spoiler: Even little Atala at the end mostly likes him because of the financial security he offers.]]
* FriendlyEnemy: Crevel is an old comrade of his. Though they both joust for Valerie's attentions[[spoiler: and ultimately Crevel completely humiliates him,]] they're able to commiserate with each other afterwards.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: His attempts to use his connections to skim the colony of Algeria.
* KarmaHoudini: Although forced into abject poverty, he's rescued by the efforts of his family, forgiven completely, and rejoins high society. He really, really doesn't deserve any of this[[spoiler:, a message driven home by the stunt he pulls right at the end.]]
* IgnoredEpiphany: Has several about his self-destructive lifestyle and the kind of person Valerie is.
* OldSoldier: His feats of heroism in the Napoleonic War are what brought the family to prominence in the first place, and are the reason everyone's so reluctant to cut him adrift, particularly Adeline and his government friends.

!!Adeline Hulot

!!Hortense Hulot/Steinbock

!!Victorin Hulot

!Valerie's Household

!!Valerie Marneffe/Crevel

!!Celestin Crevel

!!Baron Henri Montes de Montejanos

!!Monsieur Marneffe

!Other Characters

!!Count Wenceslas Steinbock

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