James (Jim) Dixon
James (Jim) Dixon, a first-year lecturer in history at an English provincial college. Jim comes from a lower-middle-class background, which puts him at a disadvantage with the comparatively well-to-do Professor Welch, upon whom he is dependent for renewal of his lecturing contract for another year. Jim has little interest in his subject, medieval history. Instead, he likes attractive women and drinking, interests that are genuine and unpretentious but unlikely to gain him employment.
Margaret Peel, a sour, neurotic senior lecturer at the same college who is involved with Jim. The relationship is not a happy one. Margaret uses her emotional instability as a means of blackmailing Jim and others into meeting her needs, even going so far as to fake a suicide attempt. She seems to be incapable of acting spontaneously, and in this and many other regards she is shown to be in direct contrast to Christine Callaghan.
Professor “Neddy” Welch
Professor “Neddy” Welch, the inane but menacing figure who represents everything about the arts that Jim both fears and detests. His dominant trait is obliviousness, which sometimes results in actions that appear to be malicious. His interests in music and folk culture may be mere poses intended to establish status, and he behaves as if he were at a prestigious school such as Oxford rather than the second-rate provincial...
(The entire section is 508 words.)