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Characters / The Old Nurses Story

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Some personages appearing in Hester's tale include:

     Grace Ethswaite ~(1790-1820) 

The younger daughter of Old Lord Furnivall, and wife of Mr. Esthwaite. She dies before the start of the main Nested Story, probably slain by the ghost of Maude Furnivall, but does not become a ghost. She was around 30 at the time of her death.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Grace was originally attracted to the Dark Foreign Musician.
  • Did Not Get the Guy: Maude beats out Grace for the love of the Dark Foreign Musician.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: After seeing the consequences of the DFM's abandonment of Maude, Grace picked one of the most moral men she could find to marry — Mr. Esthwaite.

    Mr. Esthwaite ~(1785-1820) 

A curate who marries Grace Furnivall, hence becoming an in-law of the Furnivall family. He dies just before the start of the main Nested Story, probably slain by the ghost of Maude Furnivall, but does not become a ghost. He was around 35 at the time of his death.

  • Author Appeal: He's a clergyman, just like Mrs. Gaskell's actual husband.
  • Good Shepherd: He appears to have been both a good curate and a good man.
  • Second Love: For Grace Furnivall. Her First Love was the dark foreign musician.
  • Sexy Priest: Mr. Esthwaite, though of lower birth than Grace Furnivall (he was the son of a shopkeeper while she was the daughter of a lord) was an admirable fellow. It was probably a love-match.
    Hester (narrating): ... just a curate, son of a shopkeeper in Carlisle — but a clever, fine gentleman as ever was — and one who was a right-down hard worker in his parish, which was very wide, and scattered all abroad over the Westmorland Fells.

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    Rosamund Esthwaite ~(1815-) 

The daughter of Grace, nee Furnivall and her husband Mr. Esthwaite. Aged around 4-5. A sweet and spirited girl. She's 4-5 at the time of the first Nested Story and around 35 at the time of the Framing Device.

  • Cheerful Child: In good spirits, considering her recent orphaning and the fact that she's been sent to live in a Haunted House. It helps that Children Are Innocent — also she has her devoted nurse-maid Hester to watch out for her.
  • Children Are Innocent: Rosamund is sweet and trusting, and at first fails to realize there is anything sinister about the ghosts of her Aunt Maude and Maude's young daughter. Justified, as Rosamund is only around 4-5 years old at the time.
  • Plucky Girl: When she sees Little Miss Furnivall, she wants to help and protect the apparently younger child, to the point that she has to be physically restrained from running out to aid her.
  • Spoiled Sweet: She's known mostly abundance and kindness in her life, and she returns kindness and generosity toward others.

    "Old" Lord Furnivall ~(1750-1810) 
The ultimate villain of the piece, whose cruelty was responsible for many of the bad fortunes that befell some of the other characters. He was the father of the current Lord Furnivall and of Maude, Grace and Miss Furnivall. He is now one of the three ghosts haunting Furnivall Manor.

  • Archnemesis Dad: He's the closest thing this story has to a Big Bad, and he harms his family, specifically his wife and daughters.
    • His wife died young because of him. According one old servant:
    Dorothy: ... he was a fierce dour old man, and had broken his poor wife's heart with his cruelty.
    • He literally drove out his elder daughter Maude and her toddler daughter into the cold, from a house miles from the nearest village.
    • In the process, he tried to club the child with his crutch (Maude prevented him by interposing her own body to protect her baby).
    • As a ghost, he ultimately struck down his surviving daughter, Miss Furnivall, because she pleaded with him not to kill his surviving grand-daughter, Rosamund Furnivall.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: He abuses his wealth, power and status to make life hell for his wife and eldest daughter, and quite possibly the rest of his family.
  • The Adjectival Man: Everyone, including his sister (!!), refers to him simply as "old" Lord Furnivall, rather than by any other appellation. And he's nasty.
  • Asshole Victim: Old Lord Furnivall, who dies soon after Maude and her daughter, possibly due to Maude's ghostly powers, possibly due to shock and guilt over what he had done.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Cursed to haunt Furnivall Manor as a ghost.
  • Big Bad: He's responsible not only for his own damnation, but the ghostly status of his daughter Maude and her toddler child.
  • Evil Old Folks: He was the oldest of the three Furnivalls who died and became ghosts, and he is the worst of them.
  • Evil Reactionary: His concept of the rights of a husband and father over his wife, children and grandchildren, which inform his cruel behavior toward his family, were a bit antiquated even in the late 18th century, rather antiquated by the early 19th century, and very antiquated by the 1840's - 1850's.
  • Family Values Villain: Horribly conservative, cruel and oppressive ones.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: Probably the reason why Lord Furnivall may be Barred from the Afterlife.
  • Offing the Offspring: Not only does he (semi-accidentally) kill his grand-daughter Maude and his great-grand-daughter by banishing them from Furnivall Manor into a bitterly-cold night; his ghost kills his daughter Miss Furnivall with his Death Touch.

     Maude Furnivall ~(1785-1810) 

The elder daughter of Lord Furnivall. She marries the Dark Foreign Musician and bears Little Miss Furnivall. Cast out by her father, she and her daughter die in the cold night outside Furnivall Manor, and become ghosts.

  • Death by Sex: Indirectly. She marries the Foreign Dark Musician against her father's wishes, and he drives her and her child out into the cold, resulting in their deaths.
  • The Determinator: She got her man, bore him a daughter, and when she and her daughter were killed, her will was strong enough to bind both herself and her daughter to this Earth in a twisted quest for justice.
  • Driven to Villainy: Her father's cruelty to her, coupled with her own determination, lead her to become a vengeful ghost, dangerous to others in her family.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After her death, Maude becomes notably nastier, and especially to some of her family. This is probably due to hatred of her father, and envy toward Grace and Rosamund for having better lives than hers.
  • It's All About Me: It does not seem to occur to Maude that there is anything wrong with keeping her daughter from the afterlife, or slaying those of her relatives who have happier lives than she had.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Originally, she was just a mostly-innocent aristocratic Proud Beauty. When her father unjustly caused her death and the death of her child, she became a ghost and took Revenge on him with her ghostly Death Touch. Years later, she decided to slay her brother-in-law Mr. Esthwaite, out of sheer jealousy that Grace should have a happy marriage; then her sister Grace, because she still had a lovely daughter; finally she tries to kill her niece Rosamund because Maude's own little daughter is (un)dead and she doesn't see why the little child should enjoy her life any more.
  • Mama Bear: Maude is willing to take blows from old Lord Furnivall's crutch to prevent him from clubbing her child.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In the second-level Nested Story, Maude was — if not an entirely Nice Girl — a basically good person. She wanted only to enjoy marriage and motherhood. After her death, she took Revenge on the one most responsible, her father. But she Jumped Off The Slippery slope when she then murdered two mostly-innocent kin, and then tried to kill a completely-innocent third.
  • Plucky Girl: She is willing to defy her father by wedding the Foreign Dark Musician, bear his daughter even after he goes abroad, and protect her toddler from her father Lord Furnivall's vicious attempt to club the child. It turns out badly for herself and her daughter, but she gives it a game try!
  • Pride: In life she was every bit as proud as her father, though probably nowhere as evil.
  • The Resenter: If she killed her sister Grace and Mr. Esthwaite, it was almost certainly because she couldn't stand that they were happily married, while she was abandoned by her husband, cast out by her father, and both her and her child dead by exposure. This would explain why she seems to have it in for her niece Rosamund.
  • Revenge: The reason why she killed the old Lord Furnivall.
  • Secret Relationship: She secretly marries the Foreign Dark Musician.
  • Tragic Villain: Maude originally just wanted to love a man, marry him and protect their child. Instead, she became an undead monster.

    Little Miss Furnivall ~(1806-1810) 

Maude's daughter by the Dark Foreign Musician, a toddler of around three, the great-grand-daughter of old Lord Funivall. She died indirectly due to being cast out with her mother from Furnivall Hall by Lord Furnivall, and became a ghost.

  • Child of Forbidden Love: Though her parents were (secretly) married, this still applies because in the early 19th century it was normal for the man to ask the woman's father or other guardian for the right to court or marry her. And obviously old Lord Furnivall wouldn't have given this consent.
  • Children Are Innocent: Alone of all three ghosts, she bears no malevolence toward any mortal being. Justified Trope, as she's probably around three to four years old.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Looks like a toddler in some distress.
  • Creepy Child: When she cries and bangs on the windows without making a sound, it's obvious she's not normal.
  • Ghostly Goals: Apparently, just to get inside Furnivall Manor so that she can get warm.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Given her innocence of her condition, she's probably never done anything intentionally evil either in life or undeath.
  • Not So Harmless: Little Miss Furnivall may mean well, but she is a toddler who probably shares the Death Touch ability of the other two ghosts.
  • Undead Child: Poignantly, she is stuck with the mental limitations of a toddler, and does not even seem to know that she's a ghost.

    Old Miss Furnivall 

  • Old Maid: She was unable to marry, probably because she was under the thumb of Old Lord Furnivall.

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    The Dark Foreign Musician 

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: This seems to have been much of his appeal.
  • But Not Too Foreign: He's presumably Catholic, but still from a European culture. Even in the early 19th century, gentle English girls might court and even marry such people.
  • First Love: To Grace and probably also Maude Furnivall.
  • Latin Lover: A swarthy Italian or Spanish musician who is charismatic, handsome and seduces Lord Furnivall's daughters.

    Hester, the Nurse-Maid 
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Plucky Girl: In the first level of Nested Story, she's a brave young woman, willing to do what it takes to protect her five-year-old charge Rosamund Furnivall. She is willing to defy her employers and even risk death in order to ensure the child's safety.

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