Arthur “Pen” Pendennis
Arthur “Pen” Pendennis, a young Englishman of semi-aristocratic background whose essential nature is kind and gentle. Throughout the course of the novel, he moves from a childish infatuation with an actress, to an academically and financially disastrous career at the University of Oxbridge, to a dandified life in London, to the career of a journalist, to a seat in Parliament, and to a happy and successful marriage. During this time, he grows more sophisticated and somewhat snobbish, but he still retains the essential goodness of his original character.
Major Arthur Pendennis
Major Arthur Pendennis, Arthur’s uncle, a snobbish retired army officer and a man of fashion. Always aware of his friends’ social standing, he spends much of his time culling the most advantageous invitations to dinners and balls. Although he is a snob, he is good-hearted and generous in the sense that he does look out for his nephew and tries to get him placed in the most favorable circumstances at all times.
Helen Pendennis, Arthur’s mother, a lovely, sensitive woman who adores her young son and spends many heartbreaking moments worrying about him. She dies at the end of the novel but not before she is assured that Arthur will be successful and happy in his life.
Laura Bell, Arthur’s adopted sister, the daughter of Francis Bell, Helen Pendennis’ cousin and former suitor. A sweet, intelligent woman, somewhat like her aunt in character, she watches Arthur’s career and sympathizes with his mother over Arthur’s failures. She is loved by George Warrington, Arthur’s closest friend, but because of his early and unfortunate marriage, she cannot become his wife. Eventually, she marries Arthur, the man she has really loved all her life.
George Warrington, Arthur’s roommate in London. He is reading for the law when Arthur first rooms with him. Later, he takes up a career in journalism and helps Arthur edit the Pall Mall Gazette. He is in love with Laura, but because of an unfortunate marriage he cannot marry again. He is intelligent, exceedingly kind, and casual, a good companion for Arthur.
Sir Francis Clavering
Sir Francis Clavering, a weak and dandified spendthrift baronet, much taken with cards and gambling. After Major Pendennis’ discovery that Lady Clavering’s first husband is still living, Sir Francis offers Arthur Pendennis his seat in Parliament.
Lady Clavering, a supposed widow who becomes Sir Francis’ wife. Although uneducated, she is a good and loving person at heart, and popular in spite of her social gaucheries.
Blanche Amory, Lady Clavering’s daughter by her first marriage, a talented, intelligent girl but affected and shallow in character. For a while it seems that she will marry Arthur Pendennis. Later, she is courted by Harry Foker, but he deserts her when he learns that her father is still living. She resigns herself to a charming spinsterhood.
Master Francis Clavering
Master Francis Clavering, the son of the Claverings and half brother to Blanche, a spoiled and demanding brat. He remains in the background of the story as an example of the very bad match between Mrs. Amory and Sir Francis.
(The entire section is 1425 words.)