Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Brideshead Manor

Brideshead Manor. Imposing English country estate of the Marchmain family where troops are to be quartered in the early days of World War II and the location where this frame novel opens. The bulk of the novel comprises flashback memories of the house and its family of Charles Ryder, an army captain when the novel begins. Earlier, while a student at Oxford University, he befriends Sebastian Flyte, the younger son of Brideshead’s Lord Marchmain. From Charles’s first visit to Brideshead as a young man he senses the place’s importance to the Marchmains as he is drawn into their family circle. In addition to the home’s strong family associations, Charles comes to realize that it and its art nouveau chapel are emblematic of the strong Roman Catholic faith that guides the family even when their behavior is anything but exemplary.

*Oxford University

*Oxford University. Historic English university that is novel’s second great anchor. There Charles meets Sebastian and most of the friends he retains through the rest of his life. The heady charm of Oxford’s dreaming spires and intense friendships of youth influence Charles more than the university’s intellectual opportunities. The unimaginably wealthy and charming Sebastian introduces Charles to a new world of art and pleasure. Although Charles leaves Oxford without taking a degree and becomes a successful artist, Oxford continues to inspire him and remain a touchstone of his youth.

Ryder family home

Ryder family home. Charles’s childhood home...

(The entire section is 652 words.)