My Family and Other Animals

by

Gerald Durrell

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Dr. Theodore Stephanides Character Analysis

Theodore is a freshwater biologist and general biology enthusiast whom Gerry meets through George. He's always impeccably dressed and has an impressive beard (which Gerry believes is compelling evidence that he's an esteemed scientist). Theodore quickly becomes one of Gerry's best friends and fascinates him endlessly, as he's one of the few non-family adults who treats Gerry like an adult and also shares his love and curiosity for the natural world. Theodore teaches Gerry in a way that makes Gerry feel as though Theodore isn't actually teaching, but rather is reminding Gerry of things he already knew and forgot about. In some ways, Gerry perceives Theodore as being relatively childish: he loves to watch seaplanes land and is unbelievably awkward when it comes to greetings and small talk. He has an extensive library filled with books on "sensible" subjects, such as biology, botany, and folklore, as well as a collection of mystery and crime novels that he shares with Mother. He's also a trained doctor and has access to an X-ray machine, so he is often called upon to diagnose various injuries. During the Durrells' time in Corfu, Theodore and Gerry meet weekly on Thursday afternoons to either look at microscope slides in Theodore's study or wander around outside and collect specimens in nature. Theodore delights in telling stories about the absurd culture of Corfu, and he also has a vast repertoire of bad jokes and puns that he deploys whenever possible. He laughs at himself and at his jokes and never seems to take himself particularly seriously. Theodore soon becomes a dear friend of all the Durrells and is the only non-family person Mother allows to see her in her bathing costume.

Dr. Theodore Stephanides Quotes in My Family and Other Animals

The My Family and Other Animals quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Theodore Stephanides or refer to Dr. Theodore Stephanides. 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:
The Natural World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of My Family and Other Animals published in 1956.
Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

First, since he was obviously a scientist of considerable repute (and I could have told this by his beard), he was to me a person of great importance. In fact he was the only person I had met until now who seemed to share my enthusiasm for zoology. Secondly, I was extremely flattered to find that he treated me and talked to me exactly as though I were his own age.

Related Characters: Gerry Durrell (speaker), Dr. Theodore Stephanides
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Part 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

"It sounds the most unlikely story."

"Here in Corfu," said Theodore, his eyes twinkling with pride, "anything can happen."

Related Characters: Dr. Theodore Stephanides (speaker), Larry Durrell (speaker)
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Dr. Theodore Stephanides Character Timeline in My Family and Other Animals

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Theodore Stephanides appears in My Family and Other Animals. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 5: A Treasure of Spiders
The Natural World Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
...Gerry explains the nests he found. George turns to his guest, introduces him as Dr. Theodore Stephanides and an expert on everything, and asks Theodore to take over Gerry's query. Theodore... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
As Theodore and Gerry walk, Theodore stops to look into a ditch of stagnant water and laments... (full context)
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
Gerry is both amazed and confused by Theodore. He knows that Theodore is an esteemed scientist and clearly shares his love of the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: The Sweet Spring
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
...the end of summer and all of winter, Spiro drives Gerry into town to see Theodore every Thursday. Theodore welcomes Gerry into his study, which is lined with books on "sensible... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7: The Daffodil-Yellow Villa
The Natural World Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
...and smelly residue on Gerry's fingers and the scent makes Roger sneeze. The following Thursday, Theodore comes for tea and identifies the insect as a flightless female oil beetle. He happily... (full context)
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
At this, Theodore launches into a story about a white horse he had the misfortune of riding in... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8: The Tortoise Hills
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
...Mother corners Larry about this, insisting that Melanie must go. She finally agrees to have Theodore out to evaluate the situation. (full context)
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Theodore arrives the next day with Zatopec, who drunkenly got on the wrong boat, missed his... (full context)
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
...conversations about art, literature, and poetry. After dinner, Larry plays the guitar and sings, and Theodore tells another anecdote about Corfu. He explains that once, when the Greek king visited, he... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: The World in a Wall
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Theodore comes every Thursday afternoon and stays until evening. Theodore's choice to come on Thursdays is... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
On these Thursday afternoons, Theodore and Gerry go out with Roger to collect specimens. Theodore seems to know everything, but... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10: The Pageant of Fireflies
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
...it. Mother refuses to find another suit, so the family plans a picnic and invites Theodore. (full context)
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Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
On the day of the picnic, Theodore points out that there will be no moon. After arguing, everyone decides to go anyway,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: The Enchanted Archipelago
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
...and takes over the kitchen not long after, drinking and singing loudly as he cooks. Theodore is the first guest to arrive. He gives Gerry a book on freshwater biology. Gerry... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 13: The Snow-White Villa
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Gerry shows the toads to Theodore on Thursday. Theodore proposes that the toads may be between 12 and 20 years old,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 15: The Cyclamen Woods
The Natural World Theme Icon
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
...Kralefsky asks that Spiro take him to see a doctor, and Mother agrees to fetch Theodore to take an X-ray. Later, Spiro returns with a note from Theodore explaining that Kralefsky... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 16: The Lake of Lilies
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
...boat, to which Mother explains that people who are carsick never get seasick. Larry consults Theodore on the matter, but all Theodore can say is that he's never carsick but is... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
The family attaches the Bootle-Bumtrinket to the Sea Cow to tow it, and Mother, Theodore, Sophia, and the dogs ride behind. This, however, is horrible for those passengers: the wake... (full context)
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
At the lake, Leslie, Gerry, and Theodore divide the lake in half so Gerry and Theodore can collect specimens without fear of... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
After tea, Theodore and Gerry return to the water until night falls. Spiro cooks fish and finally, when... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 18: An Entertainment with Animals
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...and returns with five goldfish. He refuses to tell Gerry who owns the house, but Theodore later explains that the "house" is actually the palace where royalty stay when they visit. (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
Moments after everyone is seated, two guests leap up, yelling in pain. Theodore looks under the table and with interest, explains there's a big bird under there. Larry... (full context)
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
...lunch, Kralefsky tells a story about a friend who was attacked by a gull, and Theodore makes an absurd gull pun. Larry tells the guests about an incident involving an aunt... (full context)
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Puke, and Widdle racing out of the kitchen, and they throw themselves on Dodo's suitors. Theodore and Kralefsky offer suggestions as to how to break up the roiling dogfight, and Spiro... (full context)
Part 3: The Return
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...not long after, the family leaves the villa for the customs shed at the quay. Theodore and Kralefsky come to see the family off, and Mother and the customs officer quickly... (full context)
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Kralefsky, Theodore, and Spiro bid the family goodbye, and Spiro bursts into heaving sobs. Finally, the family... (full context)