In Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, only the protagonist is a fully developed character. Not only is Gerald Middleton present in most of the scenes, observing, thinking, and reacting, but also his memories reveal the past. In the first part of the book, for example, Gerald escapes the deadly Christmas festivities at his wife’s home by re-creating scenes from his youth, early marriage, and affair with Dollie. Thus Wilson creates a complete person, with his observations, his memories, and his excuses.
The other characters are more two-dimensional, reminiscent of those of Charles Dickens or William Thackeray or, sometimes, of a comedy of manners. Mrs. Salad coos in cockney, castigates the eternal “trashy lot,” even when she herself has been picked up for shoplifting, and eventually turns to painting handkerchiefs which have some resemblance to modern art. The sad fate of Lillian Portway, Elvira’s grandmother, at the hands of her companion’s son would be more touching had she not been a grotesque throughout the book, the actress always onstage, as well as the still-angry suffragette. Robin’s wife is a flat character, whose speech, full of rules for life, reflects her unimaginative, thoughtless, and uncompromising attitude. Clearly, she merely parrots what she heard as a child.
The most obnoxious, as well as the most exaggerated, character in the novel is Ingeborg Middleton. Deliberately childlike, she has a sentimental script in mind...
(The entire section is 541 words.)