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The Groans

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     Titus Groan 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_titus1_6.jpg

The seventy-seventh Earl of Gormenghast and the central character of the series, although he's only a baby in the first novel. He grows up to be a restless young man who eventually breaks free from his old life and leaves to discover the world beyond the walls of Gormenghast.


  • Byronic Hero: By the end of the 2nd book and most of the third he's an aristocratic swashbuckling hero who is restless and defiant of convention.
  • Fish out of Water: In the third book, when he ends up in a bustling modern city.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: In the second book, he gets out of the castle to chase after the Thing, then he spends the majority of the third book lusting after Juno and Cheeta.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Titus doesn't care for being an Earl and wants to live like an ordinary boy.
  • The One Who Made It Out: He wants to get away from Gormenghast, its castle and its rituals. He finally does this at the end of the 2nd book yet when he arrives at the big city he finds it hard to create an identity and name for himself separate from Gormenghast.
  • Only Sane Man: He is the only one who sees how toxic and unnatural the life in Gormenghast is, and also the only one who, in the end, manages to escape from it.
  • Purple Eyes: Titus has violet eyes, which are as rare in the series' universe as in ours. They are treated as significant from the start.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: At the end of the third book, he returns briefly to Gormenghast, only to leave again for a second time.
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     Fuchsia Groan 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_fuchsia2.jpg

Titus's older sister. An impulsive, emotional girl with a big imagination, Fuchsia feels suffocated by the pointless customs and rituals that determine life in the castle.


  • Big Sister Instinct: After getting over her initial jealousy, she becomes this towards Titus, even though she's not terribly good at it.
  • Broken Bird: Due to the stifling athmosphere of the court and the tragical events taking place there, she slowly breaks down as the story progresses, growing up into a moody and bitter woman.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the TV series.
  • Longing for Fictionland: Fuchsia reads a lot, likes to pretend that the attic is a mysterious place full of magical creatures, and sometimes behaves like a character from an adventure novel - even as an adult.
  • Love Martyr: Sorry, Fuchsia, Steerpike doesn't love you at all, even if you risk your reputation and safety for him.
  • Messy Hair: Most of the time, she doesn't even bother combing it.
  • Mood-Swinger: She can go from gloomy to enthusiastic to hurt to tender in a matter of seconds.
  • Parental Neglect: Probably stemming from her being a female, in contrast to Titus, the rightful heir. Fuchsia's mother acts distant and indifferent towards her, and when she finally finds a way to connect to her father, it's already too late for him.
  • Rebellious Princess: She hates being tied down by the inane and monotonous rituals of the castle, and often fantasizes about running away to have adventures.
  • The Ophelia: By the end of the second book, she's heavily traumatized by the death of his father and the betrayal of Steerpike, and withdraws almost completely into a gloomy fantasy world. Bonus points for drowning.
  • The Woobie: A beautiful, innocent young woman who's also arguably the most tragic character in the entire series.
  • Tsundere: She can be rather temperamental, but deep down she cares deeply for her brother and wants to be loved and accepted.
  • When She Smiles: As a teenager, she tends to neglect her looks and normally hides her natural beauty behind a scowl and a slouch. At her first appearance, the narrative indicates that she's only a hair's width from being gorgeous, but her morose manners and bad temper get in the way of her best qualities manifesting themselves more often than not.

     Lord Sepulchrave 

The seventy-sixth Earl of Gormenghast and the father of Titus and Fuchsia. A broken and depressed man who sees no hope in the future and lives only to his vast library.


  • Bookworm: Reading is the only thing the earl can find some comfort in.
  • Delusions of Doghood: After he goes mad, he refers to himself as "The Death Owl", complete with hooting and flapping his arms like wings.
  • Driven to Madness: He wasn't exactly stable to begin with, but he loses all remaining contact with the real world and goes full-blown delusional after Steerpike burns down his beloved library.
  • Driven to Suicide: Although it's not entirely clear how much it is due to madness, he lets himself torn to pieces by the owls living in the Tower of Flints.
  • Eaten Alive: He gets devoured by the owls in the Tower of Flints.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Sepulchrave is much more passive and emotional than his agressive, no-nonsense wife.

     The Countess Gertrude 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_countess_gertrude2.jpg

The wife of Sepulchrave and the mother of Titus and Fuchsia.


  • Brawn Hilda: A non-comedic example. She's huge, loud and intimidating, and more often than not behaves in a decidedly masculine way.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: She can be a fast and intelligent thinker when she puts his mind to the task, but she only does it when things are looking really grim.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: She keeps a whole flock of white cats. When Flay manages to hurt one of them by accident, she banishes him.
  • Large and in Charge: The narrative describes her as a huge statue made of clay, and she becomes the ruler of Gormenghast after the disappearance of her husband.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: She's the strong, terse, no-nonsense wife of the weak-willed, soft-spoken and all-around passive Lord Sepulchrave.
  • Not Good with People: She's clearly closer to her cats and birds than to other people, whom she prefers to keep at a distance.

    Cora and Clarice Groan 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_twins1.jpg

The twin sisters of Lord Sepulchrave.


  • Creepy Monotone: Their standard way of speaking.
  • Creepy Twins: They move and speak in perfect unison, and they have a rather eccentric way to communicate with other people.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: When they are not speaking in unison.
  • Hive Mind: In the second book, when locked in a hidden room and left to starve by Steerpike, they come up with a plan to kill him without even speaking to each other.
  • The Resenter: They are immensely offended by the fact that their brother and his wife have all the power; this proves to be their weakness later on as it allows them to be manipulated by Steerpike with promises of glory and respect.

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The Castle Dwellers

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     Steerpike 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_steerpike1.jpg

A young and ambitious kitchen boy who one day decides to escape, thus triggering the main plot of the first two books.


  • Adaptation Personality Change: Whereas in the novels Steerpike is cold and ingratiating, in the series he is emotional and more openly spiteful. The change is best exemplified by the nature of his relationship with Fuschia. In the novels he merely manipulates her to further his schemes. In the series he genuinely longs for her, and it's implied that his machinations were motivated as much by his desire for her as by his desire for power.
  • Ambition Is Evil: All of Steerpike's crimes are motivated by his ambition to be the most powerful person in Gormenghast, which he will stop at nothing to achieve.
  • Consummate Liar: One of his most useful qualities.
  • Evil Albino: Arguably - he has very pale skin and red eyes, but it's never explicitly stated, and his eyesight is excellent.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From a simple kitchen boy to the (almost-)supreme ruler of Gormenghast.
  • Lack of Empathy: In the books, Steerpike has absolutely no feelings or attachment towards anyone, and only uses other people as a means to an end. This is somewhat altered in the miniseries, where he falls in love with Fuchsia.
  • Sanity Slippage: After making his first mistake in almost failing to finish off Barquentine, he becomes more and more unhinged and paranoid, this eventually resulting in his downfall.
  • Sword Cane: His weapon of choice. He can use it pretty well, too, considering he stumbles upon it by accident.
  • The Sociopath: A textbook example. Steerpike excels at manipulating others by exploiting their weaknesses and faking emotions.
  • Villain Protagonist: In the first book, he has more screentime than any other character, and we often see events from his point of view.

     Mr. Flay 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_flay_6.jpg

Lord Sepulchrave's loyal personal servant.


  • Arch-Enemy: He's this to Swelter. It's unclear whether he himself considers the chef as his nemesis or just someone who needs to be eliminated.
  • Happy Flashback: Possibly the most pleasant memory Flay has ever had is when, at some point in his early years, he got a shiny apple as a gift.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: Flay is extremely tall and thin, although in his case it isn't a sign of starvation or an illness (probably).
  • The Hermit: After getting banished by the Countess, he sets up his home in Gormenghast Forest and lives in near-complete isolation from other people. His only regret is that he can't be near his master.
  • The Quiet One: He speaks mostly in one-word sentences and grunts, if he even bothers to talk at all.
  • The Stoic: He's not big on showing emotions. This doesn't mean he can't feel them though.
  • Undying Loyalty: Flay lives to serve his masters no matter what. Even when in exile, he takes care to visit the castle in secret once in a while.

     Dr. Alfred Prunesquallor 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_drprune.jpg

The castle physician, an eccentric bachelor with an upbeat and quirky personality.


  • Ambiguously Gay: He's a flamboyant bachelor who shows no interest in women, but all the more in Steerpike.
  • Annoying Laugh: He's prone to bursting into fits of high-pitched laughter even when nothing funny was said before, although this is toned down somewhat in the second book.
    "Aha! ha, ha, ha, ha! Aha, ha, ha!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Prunesquallor is clearly more intelligent than most of the other castle dwellers, and he often enjoys sharpening his tongue on them, even if they don't understand it.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: At first, he seems to be a weak and ditzy Cloudcuckoolander, but he's actually quite sharp (among other things, he's the first to be suspicious about Steerpike) and can even hold his own in a fight if he has to.
  • Messy Hair: According to Peake's original drawings and the TV adaptation.
  • Nice Guy: He has arguably the most pleasant personality of the entire cast.
  • Only Sane Man: Along with Titus and arguably the Countess Gertrude. The narrative even mentions his "undamaged brain" in the second book.
  • Parental Substitute: He has a soft spot for Fuchsia, who often goes to him for advice or comfort.
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     Irma Prunesquallor 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_irma2.jpg

Dr. Prunesquallor's sister, an aging spinster who's afraid of dying unmarried.


  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Although she and Bellgrove fight a lot after finally married, ultimately, they care for each other in their own peculiar ways.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Understated, but she definitely has a tendency to freak out over minor things, going as far as throwing a knife into the ceiling above when her brother reacts in a way she doesn't like.
  • Hartman Hips: One of the more salient traits that distinguish her from her brother.
  • Lady and Knight: She really, really wants to be seen as the "lady" half of the pairing. Arguably, she eventually finds her knight in Bellgrove.
  • Old Maid: She's afraid of becoming this.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: At least she thinks so as she's obsessed with her looks and fishes for compliments whenever near a man.

     Abiatha Swelter 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/swelter_peake_5.jpg

The head cook in Gormenghast and a minor antagonist in the first book.


  • Acrofatic: In spite of his stature, he can move pretty swiftly (not to mention quietly).
  • Arch-Enemy: Becomes this to Flay, thanks to an Escalating War fueled by deeply personal grudges and mutual loathing.
  • Ax-Crazy: He takes immense pleasure in preparing to kill Flay, even practicing with a cleaver.
  • Evil Chef: He mistreats and abuses the kitchen boys, and doesn't shy away from murder either.
  • Fat Bastard: He's morbidly obese, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Implied; he certainly has some interesting remarks about the kitchen boys.
  • Never Found the Body: The owls devour his corpse in the Tower of Flints, along with Sepulchrave.

The Mud Dwellers

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    Keda 

A young woman who is chosen to be a wet nurse for Titus.


    The Thing 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_thing1.jpg

Keda's abandoned daughter who grows up in the wild.


  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: She grew up alone in a forest, so of course she has no bodily shame.
  • Noble Savage: Titus sees her as this, due to her wild, untamed nature which stands in sharp contrast with the life inside the castle walls.
  • The Speechless: Due to having grown up outside of civilisation, she can't speak at all.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: She has little to no role besides being an inspiration for Titus as she gets struck by lightning and dies.
  • Wild Child: She grew up alone in Gormenghast Forest, and has little to no contact with other humans. She can't even speak.

Beyond Gormenghast

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     Muzzlehatch 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/peake_muzzlehatch.jpg

A rugged and eccentric man from the city who takes an interest in Titus.


     Juno 
An older woman in her forties who takes Titus in after he flees Gormenghast. Despite the age difference the two of them enter a romantic relationship for a time.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Has a relationship with Titus despite the fact that he's approximately half her age.
  • Amicable Exes: She and Muzzlehatc were an item a very long time ago. During the story they have a sort of brother sister relationship.
  • Broken Bird: Repeated abandonment from her lovers has left her in a pretty forlorn state. When she eventually does meet someone who seems like he'll never leave her, she names him Anchor.

    Cheeta 
  • Meaningful Name: She's swift, lithe, supple, and is quite carnivore-like in her temperament, much like a real-life cheetah.
  • Rich Bitch: The pampered young daughter of a wealthy scientist, who's bored with her life and holds almost everyone else in deep contempt.
  • Spoiled Brat: She's the only child of an immensely wealthy family; of course she would be used to getting whatever she wants. Thus, when Titus rejects her advances, she reacts poorly.
  • The Vamp: Titus is fully aware of her awful personality and cruel intentions, yet he pursues a physical relationship with her.
  • Woman Scorned: She doesn't take it well when Titus makes it clear that he's only interested in her body.

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