Tristram Shandy | Study Guide

Laurence Sterne

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Tristram Shandy | Characters

Character Description
Tristram Shandy The protagonist and narrator of this whimsical novel, Tristram Shandy is an English gentleman whose life seems one long series of small misfortunes. He sets out to tell his own life story but finds himself drawn into recounting the adventures of family, friends, and neighbors. Read More
Walter Shandy Walter Shandy, Tristram's father, is a country gentleman who worked as an overseas merchant before retiring to Shandy Hall. He obsesses over his sons' upbringing, but his plans are almost always thwarted by unforeseeable accidents. Read More
Toby Shandy Captain Toby Shandy is an army veteran whose military career was cut short by an injury at the Siege of Namur. In retirement he develops a passion for studying military fortifications and reconstructing them on a model scale. Read More
Yorick Yorick is the parson of the village church near Shandy Hall. He is a good-natured priest who scorns the grave, pompous behavior of other clergymen. His death is narrated early in Vol. 1, but many flashbacks further develop his character. Read More
Corporal Trim Corporal Trim served in Uncle Toby's regiment during the war and is his valet and sidekick throughout the novel. Loyal and plainspoken, Trim has a down-to-earth wisdom that often impresses the other members of the Shandy household. Read More
Elizabeth Shandy Mrs. Elizabeth Shandy, born Elizabeth Mollineux, is the protagonist's long-suffering mother; she rarely appears in scene but is often alluded to by the other characters. Her common sense and lack of book learning make her a foil to her erudite but impractical husband Walter. Read More
Dr. Slop Dr. Slop is a "man-midwife" whom Walter hires to deliver his second child. He is arrogant, argumentative, and not very gifted as a physician, fumbling his instruments and botching his treatments. Read More
Bridget Bridget is the maidservant to the Widow Wadman. Her love affair with Corporal Trim parallels that of their respective employers.
Diego Diego is the mysterious, long-nosed stranger who appears in Slawkenbergius's Tale (Vol. 4). His remarkable nose becomes the talk of the town when he visits Strasburg.
Didius "Didius" is Tristram's pseudonym for a lawyer who draws up excessively wordy and ornate contracts.
Eugenius Yorick's close friend Eugenius serves as a counterbalance to the parson's carefree, witty personality. He urges Yorick to stop making jokes at the expense of his fellow clergymen, lest he inadvertently turn them into enemies.
Fernandez Fernandez, a Spaniard traveling in Germany, is a minor character in Slawkenbergius's Tale (Vol. 4). The brother of Diego's sweetheart, he sets out to bring Diego back to Spain and reconcile the estranged lovers.
Billy Le Fever The orphaned son of Lieutenant Le Fever, Billy is raised and educated by Uncle Toby after his father's death. Like the lieutenant, Billy tries his fortunes as a soldier but seeks to return to England after contracting a serious illness abroad. Toby recommends him as a potential tutor for the young Tristram.
Lieutenant Le Fever Lieutenant Le Fever is a fatally ill soldier whom Uncle Toby encounters at an inn and tries to nurse back to health. When he dies, Toby promises to take care of his orphaned son Billy.
Midwife The unnamed village midwife is hired by Mrs. Shandy to deliver her second child. Her old-fashioned midwifery is contrasted with Dr. Slop's modern, "scientific" approach.
Obadiah Obadiah is Walter Shandy's manservant. His role in the plot is largely mechanical: fetching things, conveying messages, and spreading gossip among the household staff.
Phutatorius Phutatorius is a religious scholar and the author of a treatise on concubines. His lustful nature makes him the butt of many jokes among his fellow clergymen.
Bobby Shandy Bobby is the eldest son of Walter and Elizabeth Shandy. He never appears in scene, but his sudden death in Vol. 4, Chapter 31 leaves Tristram as the heir to the Shandy estate.
Susannah Susannah is the maidservant at Shandy Hall. She is more loyal to Mrs. Shandy than to the men of the household.
Widow Wadman A neighbor to the Shandy family, the Widow Wadman has her eye on Uncle Toby as a potential husband. Their courtship ends in an awkward misunderstanding.
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