Character Analysis Octavius Robinson


Shaw writes that Octavius comes straight from Mozart's Don Giovanni. He is, to be sure, the faithful and ardent lover of Ann Whitefield, although not engaged to her. He is further identified as the "artist man"-as a poet, to be specific. But he possesses none of the qualities which Jack Tanner enumerates when he lectures Octavius on the subject. He never could be unscrupulous or half vivisector, half vampire to women; and surely he could never be "a child-robber, a blood-sucker, a hypocrite, and a cheat whose justification for his being is that he shows us ourselves as we really are." Jack's tirade only bewilders this young romanticist.

Octavius is "really an uncommonly nice looking young fellow," and everything in his appearance announces "the man who will love and suffer later on." Ann calls him Ricky-Ticky-Tavy, half affectionately, half contemptuously. The allusion, of course, is to the pet mongoose in Kipling's well-known story. The sobriquet, therefore, is hardly flattering; yet Octavius remains a "nice young man." He is a kind of a pet to Ramsden and to Mrs. Whitefield, who likes him and his sister better than she does her own children. Like Ramsden, Octavius is completely taken in by Ann, whom he adores. And he readily believes her when she tells him that her parents wished her to marry Jack Tanner and that she must honor their wishes. His romanticism extends beyond his worship for Ann. When Hector quixotically announces that he will work for a living and no longer depend upon his rich father, Octavius is affected almost to tears. The perspicacious Ann Whitefield is exactly right: Octavius is far different from his down-to-earth, practical sister, Violet. He always has been a "really good boy," and he will always be nice to women. But as Ann predicts, he will remain the sentimental bachelor holding fast to his illusions. He provides an amusing contrast to his friend, the iconoclastic Jack Tanner.

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