The main protagonist ofthe novel. Newland is a young man torn between convention (represented by his wife, May Welland) and defiance (represented by his love, Ellen Olenska).
The conventional fiancé/wife of Newland Archer. Her character is an interesting paradox. She is consistently desribed as innocent and pure, dressed in white. Yet, she is conniving, described as the huntress Diana, and conspires to control Newland throughout the novel.
May's cousin, a non-conformist. Newland falls in love with her for her defiance of social convention. Ellen leaves her brutal husbad in Europe for the comforts of her home in New York. When she returns she finds New York very differnt from the simple paradise she had remembered. She falls in love with Newland but is silently banished back to Europe by her family.
Mrs. Manson Mingott (née Catherine Spicer)
May and Ellen's grandmother. The matriarch of New York society. Although she is the archetype of convention she attained her position by being defiant and aggressive in her youth.
Newland Archer's conventional mother. She's a widow.
May's extremely conventional mother.
The "model of form" in New York society; he is addressed whenever matters of style or decorum are at issue. Yet, ironically, he is a lying adulterer.
New York society's central gossip; a good friend of the Archer family.
Ellen Olenska's aunt and caretaker. (Ellen's parents died young) She is eccentric and avant-garde; she raise Ellen like a "gypsy foundling."
A scandalous womanizer; represents "new" money and new standards. He is the first to embrace Ellen into society although his intentions may be less than honorable.
Catherine Spicer's father. He had a wild spirit; he abandoned her and her mother before she was born.
Mrs. Lemuel Struthers
The widow of a wealthy businessman. She is disliked in New York society for her questionable backgound.
The wife of Julius Beaufort. When Julius' repuation becomes mired in scandal, she appeals to Mrs. Manson Mingott, who is angered that she would ask the family for backing.
Larry Leffert's wife; she feigns ignorance of Larry's many affairs for the sake of her reputation.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry van der Luyden
A socially influential couple capable of making or breaking any reputation. They are consistently in control of Ellen's fate.
Newland's boss at the law firm. Convinces Newland to persuade Ellen not to get a divorce.
Duke of St. Austrey
The socially important, but very dull, guest of honor at the van der Luyden's banquet.
Miss Fanny Ring
Julius Beaufort's mistress. After the death of his wife, Beaufort marries Fanny. Newland's son marries Beaufort and Ring's daughter, Fanny Beaufort.
Archer's close friend, a "clever" person he talked with at the club. Winsett is a journalist and much less wealthy than any member of New York's better society. Winsett is "not a journalist by choice;"he was a man of letters, untimely born in a world that had no need of letters."
A strange manipulative friend of Medora Manson; the self professed "doctor of love." He's most likely a quack or a fraud.
Mrs. Carfry and Miss Harle
Two friends of Mrs. Archer that Newland and May visit on their honeymoon.
Newland and May meet him on their honeymoon; he's the tutor of Mrs. Carfry's nephew. Later, he meets Archer in New York and he describes himself as Count Olenska's secretary, the man who helped Ellen escape from the Count.
Newland's eldest son; he marries Fanny Beaufort.
The daughter of Beaufort from his second marriage.
The Age of Innocence Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Age of Innocence is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Details about Archer's love of literature and art help us to understand that he is a romantic at heart. He adheres to convention, but a part of him also clings to the notion of a world where conventions do not exist..... a world in which the...