List of La Comédie humaine characters

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The following is a list of characters from La Comédie humaine a collection of 95 loosely connected novels satirically detailing the life and times of French society in the period after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)—namely the period of the Restoration (1815–1830) and the July Monarchy (1830–1848). French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), over the course of these novels, invents a plethora of unique and memorable characters.

Major characters[edit]

Recurring characters[edit]

  • Eugène de Rastignac - student, dandy, financier, politician (appears in 28 works)
  • Lucien Chardon de Rubempré (the use of "de Rubempré" is contested) - journalist, parvenu
  • Jacques Colin aka Carlos Herrera aka Vautrin aka Trompe-la-Mort - a criminal run away from hard labour
  • Camusot - examining magistrate (The Collection of Antiquities, A Commission in Lunacy, Scenes from a Courtesan's Life; his father also appears in A Distinguished Provincial at Paris)
  • Blondet, Emile - journalist, man of letters, prefect (The Collection of Antiquities, A Distinguished Provincial at Paris, Scenes from a Courtesan's Life). Compare and contrast with Raoul Nathan.
  • Raoul Nathan - in 19 works, writer, politician
  • Daniel d'Arthez
  • Delphine de Nucingen née Goriot
  • Roger de Granville
  • Louis Lambert
  • la duchesse de Langeais
  • la comtesse de Mortsauf
  • Jean-Jacques Bixiou - in 19 works, artist
  • Joseph Bridau - in 13 works, painter
  • Marquis de Ronquerolles - in 20 works
  • la comtesse Hugret de Sérisy - in 20 works
  • Félix-Amédée de Vandenesse
  • Horace Bianchon - in 24 works, doctor
  • des Lupeaulx - public servant
  • Salon leaders: the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, the Marquise d'Espard
  • Dandies: Maxime de Trailles, Henri de Marsay
  • Courtesans: La Torpille (Esther van Gobseck), Madame du Val-Noble
  • Financiers: Ferdinand du Tillet, Frédérick de Nucingen (a thin fictionalization of James Rothschild), Keller brothers
  • Actresses: Florine (Sophie Grignault), Coralie,
  • Publishers/Journalists/Critics: Finot, Etienne Lousteau, Felicien Vernou
  • Money lenders: Jean-Esther van Gobseck, Bidault aka Gigonnet

Characters who appear in several titles but only significantly in one of them.

  • Birotteau
  • Goriot

Characters in a single volume[edit]

  • Raphaël de Valentin
  • le baron Hulot
  • Balthazar Claës
  • Grandet
  • le cousin Pons


Balzac created fictional coats of arms for many of the characters in the novels. They have later been illustrated and collected in the Armorial de la Comédie Humaine (1963).