Charles Ryder, a young man who in his days at Oxford meets Sebastian Marchmain and is gradually introduced to the Marchmain family of Brideshead. He becomes an architectural painter and marries the sister of another Oxford friend, but his ties to the Marchmain family persist, and later he falls in love with Sebastian’s sister Julia, who is also married. They plan to divorce their spouses and marry each other, and for a while they live together; but Julia’s Catholic faith claims her at last, and she gives up Charles.
Lady Marchmain, the stanchly Catholic mother of Sebastian and Julia, who are in revolt from her as well as from their religion. After her death, her rebellious husband and children are drawn back to the values of the Church.
The Marquis of Marchmain
The Marquis of Marchmain, Lady Marchmain’s husband and the owner of Brideshead. For many years he has lived with his mistress in Italy. After the death of his wife, he returns to Brideshead with his mistress to spend his last days. Although he is in failing health, he refuses to see a priest: but as he is dying, the priest is brought in, and Lord Marchmain makes the sign of the cross.
Brideshead (Bridey) Marchmain, the oldest of their children. A pompous man, he marries a self-righteous widow with three children.
(The entire section is 589 words.)