71 pages 2 hours read

Zadie Smith

The Fraud

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Character Analysis

Eliza Touchet

Content Warning: This section of the guide discusses racism and enslavement, including explicitly racist ideas from the 19th century.

Eliza Touchet is the central protagonist of The Fraud. She is Scottish and Catholic, which makes her an outsider in certain Anglican and English settings. She is also a woman surrounded by successful and ambitious men who don’t recognize her enormous contribution to their work and her immense potential.

Eliza is often intelligent and curious about the people around her. She supports abolitionist and feminist causes. Her backstory is full of difficulties: She is abandoned by her husband, loses her son, and must rely on William for a lifetime of housing and stability. As a woman, Eliza cannot achieve her own dreams or ambitions; she therefore defines herself in relation to William. She becomes his lover, his companion, his intellectual partner, and his confidante for decades. Her life becomes about providing structure and peace for William. It is not until Eliza is much older and more financially independent that she discovers her own interests, passions, and potential.

Eliza is also a complex figure in that she still embodies many beliefs that perpetuate Racism and Oppression in society, despite her well-meaning abolitionist beliefs and sympathies for the poor.