The Family Reunion

by T. S. Eliot
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Last Updated on September 8, 2022, 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.

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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.

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Latest answer posted December 3, 2015, 7:16 pm (UTC)

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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).

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 557


Amy, Dowager Lady Monchensey, an old member of the English aristocracy. She is determined to preserve the family estate, Wishwood, as it has always been and use it as a means to keep the family together. Like most people who are used to giving orders, she believes that her desires eventually will be fulfilled, in this case her wish that her oldest son will return to take over the estate and marry her ward. As she dies, she begins to see that she has been living in an unreal world; some of the things happening around her then begin to make sense.

Harry, Lord Monchensey

Harry, Lord Monchensey, Amy’s son. Having returned home for the first time in eight years, he finds his family still trying to deny any change in the world. While he was gone, he had murdered his wife, and he is currently searching for some satisfactory way of life. In the few hours that he spends at Wishwood, he finds that the ghosts that have been following him are not his at all, but his father’s, and that he is really pursuing them. He soon leaves to seek out the deeper reality that he has just glimpsed.


Agatha, Amy’s sister. Many years prior to the action of the play, Agatha fell in love with her sister’s husband but convinced him that he must not murder Amy because of her pregnancy. At the time of the play, Agatha is making her first visit to Wishwood in thirty years. She is the only one of the older members of the family who has any sense of reality or who is aware of the changes that have taken place around them. She helps Harry to glimpse reality and advises him to leave immediately.


Downing, Harry’s servant and chauffeur. Although he has seen the Eumenides, he realizes they have nothing to do with him and is therefore able to treat the subject with equanimity. He has complete faith in his master’s ability to cope with the situation.


Mary, Amy’s niece and ward. Although she is aware of Lady Monchensey’s plans for her marriage to Harry, she knows that this will not do. Upon Harry’s return, she finally finds the courage to leave the estate and enlists the aid of Agatha in carrying out her plans.


Ivy and


Violet, Amy’s other two sisters. They understand nothing of what is going on around them, not even that they are old and no longer a part of a moving world. Their chief interest in life is Amy’s will.

Colonel the Honorable Gerald Piper

Colonel the Honorable Gerald Piper and

the Honorable Charles Piper

the Honorable Charles Piper, brothers of Amy’s deceased husband. Much like Amy’s sisters, they are living in the past, but they retain their confidence that they can meet the challenges of a changing world.

Dr. Warburton

Dr. Warburton, an old friend of the family who is called in to try to diagnose Harry’s trouble.

The Eumenides

The Eumenides (ew-MEHN-ih-deez), the evil spirits that Harry believes are following him. They are seen by him and Downing, as well as by Agatha and Mary.


Denman, a parlor maid.

Sergeant Winchell

Sergeant Winchell, a policeman in the local village.

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