Characters

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Last Updated on February 26, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 455

Michael Meade

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Michael is the founder and head of the Imber Court intentional community. A layperson, Michael is a devout man who planned to become a priest, but his plans were derailed when he lost his teaching job because of a romance with his student, Nick Fawley. Nearing 40, he channels his religious feelings into Imber, but he cannot suppress his sexual desires, which lead to him kissing Toby. When the community falls apart, he moves to London.

Dora Greenfield

In her mid-twenties, Dora is married to Paul; she leaves him and has an affair with Noel Spens. Dora then moves to Imber Court, where Paul is now living. After learning of the lost ancient bell from Toby, she hatches a plan to rescue it. Dora saves Catherine from drowning and helps Michael through his spiritual crisis. She later leaves Paul again and makes plans to teach art in London.

Paul Greenfield

Paul is more than 10 years older than his wife, Dora. His abusive behavior prompted Dora to leave him prior to the start of the novel. An art historian, he is at Imber studying medieval manuscripts and becomes interested in the ancient bell’s inscriptions. His jealousy of Toby and Michael leads to his second separation from Dora.

Noel Spens

Noel is a journalist and Dora’s former lover. He writes a negative article about Imber Court that contributes to its demise.

Toby Gashe

Toby is a young man about to enter Oxford University. He lives at Imber Court with Nick Fawley. Part of the plot concerns his confusion over his sexual identity, shown through his feelings for Michael and Dora. He helps Dora raise the ancient bell. After a jealous Nick threatens to reveal Toby's relationships with both Dora and Michael, Toby confesses everything to James and leaves Imber to begin his studies at Oxford.

Nick Fawley

Nick Fawley is Catherine's troubled twin brother. When Nick was a teenager, he began a romantic relationship with his teacher, Michael, which led to Michael getting fired and establishing Imber Court. Now a solitary, depressed man, Nick becomes a member of Imber Court thanks to Catherine's intervention, where he jealously sabotages the relationship between Toby and Michael. Opposing Catherine’s plan to enter the convert, Nick sabotages the bridge to destroy the bell ceremony. Nick ultimately commits suicide.

Catherine Fawley

Catherine Fawley is a deeply devout, lovely woman about to enter Imber Abbey. She is Nick Fawley's twin sister. She is in love with Michael. Catherine almost drowns herself after the disastrous bell episode but is saved by Dora. She then returns to London to seek therapy for her mental health issues.

The Abbess of Imber Abbey

The Abbess encourages Michael to establish the Imber Court community, but she later participates in having it disbanded.

Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 911

Michael Meade

Michael Meade, the undistinguished-looking founder and unofficial leader of Imber Court, a place next to a convent that is home to a community of religious laypersons. A good man who awaits a religious call, Michael is caught between the conflicting demands of leadership and compassion, of spiritual and sensual love. Now thirty-nine years old, he had been a schoolmaster. Despite his homosexuality, he hoped to become a priest. Led by his pupil Nick Frawley into a comparatively innocent love relationship, he was dismissed when Nick lied to the headmaster, thus preventing Michael from becoming a priest. Later, he was inspired by Abbess to found the Imber community. He plans a ceremony of dedication for a new bell to get needed publicity. When Nick arrives at Imber, Michael keeps his distance but tries to help him. Michael is attracted to Toby and kisses him, then apologizes. After the bell ceremony is ruined, he is embraced by Catherine. When told of Toby’s confession, he thinks mistakenly that it represents Nick’s revenge. He finds Nick’s dead body. After the community is dissolved, he remains at Imber Court, thinking of his love for Nick and feeling guilty for not expressing his love. Cared for by Dora, he regains some composure and leaves for London.

Dora Greenfield

Dora Greenfield, a woman of about twenty-four years of age who came from London. Imaginative, impulsive, and careless, she offers an independent perspective on Imber Court. Because she is bored with her life and afraid of her husband, Paul, she leaves him. She has an affair with Noel Spens, then joins Paul at Imber Court, where her natural happy impulses are reproved. She is appalled by the idea of nuns shutting themselves away from the world. She briefly escapes to London but returns. When Toby tells her of the ancient bell in the lake, she realizes its importance and plans to raise it to surprise onlookers at the blessing ceremony. When she overhears Nick tell Noel about it, she makes the old bell ring and wakes up the neighborhood. the next day, she follows Catherine; when she tries to stop her from drowning, she is almost drowned herself. She stays behind when Paul goes to London, learns to swim, and cooks for Michael. When he leaves, she departs to take a job as an art teacher.

Paul Greenfield

Paul Greenfield, Dora’s husband, an art historian who is about thirty-seven years old. He comes from a German banking family and is a rich and violent man. He is passionately in love with Dora but treats her harshly. He works on medieval manuscripts at Imber Court and is jealous of both Toby and Noel. He is fascinated by the inscriptions on the antique bell. He returns to London without Dora.

Toby Gashe

Toby Gashe, a slim, tall, innocent young man of about eighteen years of age. He is bound for Oxford University. At Imber Court, he lives in a separate house with Nick Fawley. After Michael kisses him, he is enlightened and confused. He scales the abbey walls and is escorted out. Attracted to Dora, he tells her of discovering the bell in the lake. He kisses her and with her raises the bell. After Nick tells him that he knows about both of Toby’s relationships, he betrays Michael to James and is sent home. At the end, he is happy at Oxford.

Nick Fawley

Nick Fawley, Catherine’s twin brother. At the age of fourteen, he initiated a homosexual relationship with his schoolmaster, Michael; his lies to the headmaster resulted in Michael being dismissed. Later, he became dissolute and was persuaded to come to Imber Court. Melancholy and irascible at the age of twenty-eight, he lives apart with a dog named Murphy. He helps maintain machinery. He detains Toby by force and accuses him of destroying the faith of Michael, a religious man. He gives Noel the facts about Dora’s plans for the old bell. He saws through bridge supports to ruin the bell ceremony and thereby to stop his sister from entering the convent. He kills himself.

Catherine Fawley

Catherine Fawley, Nick’s twin sister, a beautiful, religious young woman who is preparing to enter Imber Abbey and who surprisingly can drive a truck. After the bell debacle, she tries to drown herself, then reveals her love when she throws herself into Michael’s arms. She is sent to London, where she receives therapy.

James Tayper Pace

James Tayper Pace, a man about forty years old who unofficially ranks second at Imber Court. A handsome, masculine man with a simple faith and rigid opinions, he is a natural leader. He receives Toby’s confession and judges Michael harshly. With Abbess, he dissolves the Imber Court community, then leaves.

Abbess

Abbess, the head of Imber Abbey. She inspired Michael to start the Imber Court community. She acts as Michael’s conscience, for she seems to know about his relations with Nick. She helps decide to dissolve the community.

Margaret Strafford

Margaret Strafford, known as Mrs. Mark, the middle-aged, gentle enforcer of the community’s rules and an arranger of concerts. At the end, she attends Catherine in London.

Noel Spens

Noel Spens, a shallow London journalist who is a friend and lover of Dora. At Imber Court, he gets news of the old bell from Nick. He writes a sensational, derisive news feature about Imber Court events that helps destroy the community.

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