The character of Mrs. Rachel Humphrey in Alias Grace from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Alias Grace

Alias Grace

Mrs. Rachel Humphrey Character Analysis

Dr. Simon Jordan’s landlady and lover during his stay in Kingston. The reader only meets Rachel through Dr. Jordan’s eyes; he describes her as simpering and clingy. According to Dr. Jordan, though Rachel pretends to be reserved and proper she is actually incredibly sexual. Dr. Jordan insists that Rachel initiated their affair, while Dora offers the conflicting perspective that any time Dr. Jordan looks at Rachel it is “with fearsome blazing eyes like a tiger’s, as if ready to spring on her and sink his teeth into her.” After Simon abandons her, Rachel writes him several letters; though the reader never sees these letters, Mrs. Jordan’s acerbic responses to them make it clear that Rachel believed Simon had promised to marry her.

Mrs. Rachel Humphrey Quotes in Alias Grace

The Alias Grace quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Rachel Humphrey or refer to Mrs. Rachel Humphrey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Alias Grace published in 1997.
Epigraphs Quotes

Underneath her stiff dress there must be breasts, not starched and corset-shaped, but made of soft flesh, with nipples; he finds himself idly guessing what colour these nipples would be, in sunlight or else in lamplight, and how large. Nipples pink and small like the snouts of animals, of rabbits or mice perhaps; or the almost-red of ripening currants; or the scaly brown of acorn caps. His imagination runs, he notes, to wildwood details, and to things hard or alert.

Related Characters: Dr. Simon Jordan (speaker), Mrs. Rachel Humphrey
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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During the day, Rachel is a burden, an encumbrance, and he wishes to be rid of her; but at night she’s an altogether different person, and so is he. He too says no when he means yes. He means more, he means further, he means deeper. He would like to make an incision in her—just a small one—so he can taste her blood, which in the shadowy darkness of the bedroom seems to him like a normal wish to have.

Related Characters: Dr. Simon Jordan (speaker), Mrs. Rachel Humphrey
Page Number: 365-366
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

He’ll begin to tiptoe up the stairs, intending to avoid her. Then he’ll turn around, make his way to her room, shake her roughly awake. Tonight he’ll hit her, as she’s begged him to; he’s never done that before, it’s something new. He wants to punish her for his own addiction to her. He wants to make her cry; though not too loudly, or Dora will hear them, and trumpet scandal.

Related Characters: Dr. Simon Jordan (speaker), Mrs. Rachel Humphrey, Dora
Page Number: 408
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Mrs. Rachel Humphrey Character Timeline in Alias Grace

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Rachel Humphrey appears in Alias Grace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
...where he is lodging, Simon tries his best to avoid conversation with his landlady, Mrs. Rachel Humphrey. She delivers him a letter from his mother and Simon quickly leaves. He finds... (full context)
Chapter 17
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...on the table. When he hears a crash, he turns around to find his landlady, Mrs. Humphrey , collapsed on the floor, covered in remnants of his breakfast. Simon carries Mrs. Humphrey... (full context)
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
When Mrs. Humphrey regains consciousness, she tells Simon that she had to let Dora go, because she could... (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Simon returns with food and he and Mrs. Humphrey eat together. He asks Mrs. Humphrey whether there is something she can do to earn... (full context)
Chapter 21
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Simon spots Mrs. Humphrey and “wonders why she insists on dressing quite so much like a widow.” He wanders... (full context)
Chapter 32
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...Europe, is “dazed” by the sudden change in the weather. He is eating breakfast with Mrs. Humphrey ; she has cooked because Dora is no longer at the house, but she does... (full context)
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Simon listens to Mrs. Humphrey discuss how grateful she is to him. He finds himself daydreaming about what Mrs. Humphrey... (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Simon suddenly awakens, shirtless in bed; there is a light in his doorway. He hears Mrs. Humphrey say she was alarmed by a noise “as if of someone attempting to break in... (full context)
Chapter 34
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
...determination to get a man’s trousers off him, it was there in the eyes of Mrs. Humphrey .” Grace is put off by Dora’s taste for gossip, so she says no more. (full context)
Chapter 37
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Simon arrives home, and Dora greets him coldly at the door. Mrs. Humphrey invites Simon to dine with her, but he declines, as he has “half accepted” an... (full context)
Chapter 42
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...dreaming; or not dreaming the woman”—he realizes that the woman lying next to him is Mrs. Humphrey , whose first name he doesn’t even know. He thinks back to the sex they’ve... (full context)
Chapter 44
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
Simon is traveling by train to Toronto to meet with Mr. MacKenzie. He thinks about Rachel Humphrey, who has become his mistress, and feels relieved to be far away from her.... (full context)
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
...into the Toronto train station, and as he disembarks, Simon resolves to leave thoughts of Rachel behind him. He finds himself wishing he were in London or Paris, where he would... (full context)
Chapter 49
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...will hardly let him off the hook so easily.” Frustrated, he turns his thoughts to Rachel—“something he can grapple with, take hold of.” He looks forward to having violent sex with... (full context)
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
When he enters the house, he finds Rachel waiting for him, crying. She tells Simon she’s had a letter from her husband, Major... (full context)
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
...Simon lies in bed and thinks about what would happen if he were to follow Rachel’s plan. He imagines them escaping to the United States, where he will “never be free... (full context)
Chapter 50
Female Sexuality and the Nature of Women Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
This chapter consists of several letters. The first is Simon’s farewell letter to Rachel. It is signed: “You know how much I admire your courage in the face of... (full context)
Storytelling and Power Theme Icon
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Gender, Ownership, and Power Theme Icon
The next letter is from Simon’s mother, Mrs. Jordan, to Rachel Humphrey. Mrs. Jordan writes that she is returning seven letters that Rachel has sent to... (full context)
Social Class and Propriety Theme Icon
Truth, Memory, and Madness Theme Icon
The sixth letter is dated 1862, and is from Mrs. Jordan to Rachel Humphrey. She writes, “To threaten to do yourself an injury […] might carry weight with... (full context)