Walter Bidlake, a literary critic in London. An essentially weak and confused man, he is unhappy in his extramarital relationship with Marjorie Carling and seeks some kind of better realization in an affair with Lucy Tantamount. The author regards Walter as an example of the emptiness of the intellectual life unsupported by sound instinctual expression.
Marjorie Carling, Walter’s unhappy mistress. She has left Carling because of his perversion and yet behaves with Walter, to all effects and purposes, like a nagging wife rather than a cheering companion. Fearful of her pregnancy, she drives Walter from her. Marjorie has difficulty reconciling the needs of her body and of her soul.
Philip Quarles, a writer and diarist. He is the prime example in the novel of a man who understands everything and feels nothing. He has an encyclopedic mind and seldom fails to develop a topic in a startling way.
Mrs. Bidlake, the mother of Walter and Elinor Quarles. She is a gentle and aesthetic elderly woman who is unable to aid any of her children with their personal problems.
John Bidlake, Walter’s father. Bidlake, once a successful artist and amorist, is horrified by the decline of his artistic powers and by the onset of disease. He represents the shortcomings of irresponsible sensuality.
Hilda Tantamount, a successful London hostess. Once John Bidlake’s mistress and now his friend, she lives for amusement and malice.
Lord Edward Tantamount
Lord Edward Tantamount, Hilda’s husband. Lord Edward is a great biologist and a...
(The entire section is 735 words.)