William Legrand – The text’s protagonist, Legrand is a reclusive man who lives on desolate Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina. A man of the wealthy Huguenot bloodline, we are told Legrand lost his riches (although we are not told how) while living in New Orleans and moved to South Carolina to removed himself from the embarrassment of his misfortune.

Legrand is an intelligent and focused man; showing a resilience to distractions once he realizes that his bug can help him hit the jackpot. That said, his mission devours his entire being, resulting in what appears as manic behavior to the narrator and Jupitar. After they have recovered the treasure however, Legrand is composed, confident and ultimately proud of his accomplishment. His erratic behavior has ceased, and he calmly explains to the narrator how he figured out the location of the riches. Legrand has a passion for cryptology, mystery and nature.

Unnamed Narrator – Although he carries the entire story, the only things we are told about the narrator is that he lives in Charleston, practices as a physician, and is a friend of Legrand’s. He accompanies the man on his treasure hunt out of worry of his health.

Jupitar – Legrand’s black servant. A dim-witted and southern-tongued freed slave, Jupitar provides comic relief with his thick accent and tendency to disappoint his master. Although Legrand gets frustrated and angry with Jupitar on the hunt for treasure, it is understood that they maintain a peaceful, quasi-friendship.

Captian Kidd – An allusion to the 17th century Scotish sailor who was executed by English Parlimanet in 1701 for charges of piracy. At the time of the text, Kidd is long dead, only living on through the enormous treasure of that Legrand finds buried on Sullivan’s Island. Legends of Kidd treasures exist not only in The Gold-Bug, but in other literature as well as in folklore. It’s possible, though, that these tales are based in fact – for a treasure buried by the sailor was found on Gardiner’s Island off of Long Island, NY, shipped back to England and used as evidence against him in his trial.
Kidd’s physical character does not appear in the text, but his contribution to the story is so great that he warrants a description on this page.

Old Negro Woman – Woman that Legrand finds in the brush; helps him locate the site of the buried treasure.

The Gold-Bug – classified by Legrand as a member of the Old World genus Scarabaeus, the beetle is dominantly gold in color – save for multiple black spots on the bug’s back – and about the size of a hickory nut. There is confusion as to whether or not the insect displays antennae; Legrand insists they are present and visible, while Jupitar and the narrator insist they cannot see them.
No identical species exists in nature, though it is hypothesized that Poe used a combination of traits from Callichroma splendidum and Phanceus carnifex to create his composite gold-bug (see Poe’s Motive and Inspiration).

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