The Professor's House


  • Godfrey St. Peter - Also known as the professor, the novel's protagonist. He is a fifty-two-year-old man of mixed descent “Canadian French on one side, and American farmers on the other”.[2] He is described by his wife as growing “better-looking and more intolerant all the time”.[3] He is a professor of history at Hamilton University and his book is entitled Spanish Adventures in North America. Godfrey's name comes from Godfrey of Boulogne, the conqueror who took Jerusalem:[4] St. Peter is the rock on which the Roman church was built: St. Peter is writing about pioneers, when he himself is an intellectual pioneer and every bit of his name comes from famous pioneers in history.
  • Lillian St. Peter - The professor's status-oriented wife. She is described as “occupied with the future” and adaptable.[5] Most of her involvement in the novel is to act as contrast to the professor and show the distance between his interests and his family. Their relationship is described as happy but dependent on her inheritance. She tells the professor “'One must go on living, Godfrey. But it wasn't the children who came between us.' There was something lonely and forgiving in her voice, something that spoke of an old wound, healed and hardened and hopeless”.[5]
  • Augusta - The family seamstress and friend of St. Peter. She is described as being “a reliable, methodical spinster, a German Catholic and very devout”.[6]
  • Rosamond - St. Peter's elder daughter and wife of Louie Marsellus. She was originally engaged to Tom Outland and he left everything to her when he died. She is now obsessed with her appearance and having all the finest things, likely because Louie showers her with extravagance. The professor admits that “he didn't in the least understand” her.[7]
  • Kathleen - St. Peter's younger daughter and wife of Scott McGregor. She is sweet and honest and is one of the more genuine characters in the novel. The professor says that “the only unusual thing about Kitty … is that she doesn't think herself a bit unusual” and that she “has a spark of something different”.[8]
  • Louie Marsellus - Rosamond's husband and executor of Tom Outland's patents from which he massed a fortune and is now building a house and memorial to Tom where he and Rosamond will live called Outland. He is generous and very loving to Rosamond. The professor says that he is “perfectly consistent. He's a great deal more generous and public-spirited than I am, and my preferences would be enigmatical to him”.[9] Nevertheless Marsellus is named after the French monarch, and the Roman general who fought Hannibal, and the last part of his name, 'sellus' corroborates (mainly) Scott's idea that Louie is only interested in materialism.
  • Scott McGregor - Kathleen's husband. They became engaged soon after Rosamond's engagement to Louie. He is a journalist and writes a daily prose poem for the two to live off of. The professor describes him as “having a usual sort of mind” but that “he trusted him”.[8] Scott and Kathleen are portrayed as truly loving each other.
  • Tom Outland - Once St. Peter's student and Rosamond's fiancé before his death, the story focuses on his memory. The central piece of the chapter “Tom Outland's Story” is Tom's own account of his adventures in the American Southwest investigating a cliff city's remains in the desert while working as a rancher. It is through these stories and his goodness that the St. Peter family fell in love with him and remembers him fondly.

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