Characters - Mr Kelly

Contrasting with Mary, Mr Kelly seems to have little care for those around him. His manner and his comments have a huge impact on Mary, and at times they seem designed to hurt her. He is portrayed as a bully and, as such, brings out a vitriolic side to Mary’s character that we don’t see anywhere else (Mary immediately states that she hated him).

Mr Kelly sometimes uses complex vocabulary (such as unintelligible), perhaps used deliberately in order to make it difficult for Mary to understand, or perhaps because he doesn’t know how to communicate effectively with pupils of Mary’s age. He values the merits of being:

properly educated in the classical tradition

Whereas several teachers fail to give Mary the support that she needs, Mr Kelly seems to, at times, resent her. He makes no effort to support Mary and then blames her for her lack of progress.

Mr Kelly does seem to be intelligent and assured. That Mary has the strength to stand up to him serves to underline her own strength.