The Family Reunion

by T. S. Eliot

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 539

Amy, Lady Monchensey

Amy, Lady Monchensey, is the dowager of Wishwood. She yearns to see her sons, only one of whom (Harry) arrives for her birthday. She expresses contempt for her son Harry's late wife, and would love to see him marry a more unassuming and proper woman with whom he may serve as caretaker of Wishwood after her death. Amy is joined in her home by her sisters Ivy, Violet, and Agatha, and her brothers, Gerald and Charles. Mary, the daughter of a cousin, is also present.

Violet and Ivy

Violet and Ivy are similarly conservative and proper. They suggest that the new generation is becoming decadent, and they value propriety. They agree that they would not move south because of the people being "vulgar" compared to the population of England. 

Charles and Gerald

Charles, like Violet and Ivy, is quite conservative. His brother, Gerald (a former subaltern in the British Army) is more progressive. He misses living abroad while in the service and hates the cold weather.


Agatha, the oldest sibling, is occasionally antagonistic to Amy, for the reason (discovered at the end of the play) that Agatha took Amy's husband. Amy accuses Agatha of convincing her son, Harry, to leave, though he in fact chooses to leave of her own volition. Agatha feels guilty for her affair with Amy’s husband. 

The Late Lord Monchensey

Though not a present member of the play (since he is deceased), the audience learns several key details about Amy’s late husband. He had an affair with Agatha. He even considered murdering Amy while she was pregnant with their child, Harry. 


Harry, the oldest son, lost his wife (whom his mother never liked) at sea and reveals to his family at the birthday party that he believes he is responsible for her death. He is haunted by the Eumenides (creatures from Greek tragedy who haunt those who have committed murder). He is the acting Lord of Monchensey, though he has no interest in claiming the estate. He has been absent for eight years and has no interest in taking over Wishwood, as his existence is haunted and unsettled. Agatha tells him of his father’s plot to kill Amy while she was pregnant with him—this adds to his dislike of everything Wishwood represents.


Mary, a distant relative of Amy, is an age-mate of Harry's. Though the two used to play together as children in the trees around Wishwood, they do not become romantically involved. Amy thinks she would be a suitable daughter-in-law as she is plain and sensible. Mary is nearly thirty years of age, unmarried, and socially self-effacing. She is embarrassed by her marital status and claims that she does not identify with a generation.

The Eumenides

The Eumenides, also referred to as the Furies, are tragic Greek figures. They are “deities of vengeance.” They appear with Harry when he returns to Wishwood; he is wracked with guilt over the death of his wife because he, at times, wished she was dead. The Eumenides appear to only Harry, though as the play goes on, more characters reveal their ability to see them. In essence, they punish crimes of a particularly horrible nature (such as murder).

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