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Written by Timothy Sexton, S. R. Kercenna
Denis is the central character in the novel, for most of the storyline is to be perceived from his own standpoint. He is depicted as a sensitive young man, and a rising poet whose talents leave yet something to be expected. The story opens with his short journey towards the Crome estate, where he is expected as a guest for few weeks. This enterprise fills him with excitement, especially in connection with Anne Wimbush, a young woman, with whom he is in love, and whose affection he wishes to secure. The novel follows, thus, the mental progress of Denis during his vacation at Crome recording the changes in his personality and expectations before and after his summer break.
Anne is the niece of Henry Wimbush, and the love interest of both Denis Stone and Gombauld. She is depicted as a modern and flirty young woman few years older than Denis. Anne’s flirtatious behavior can be regarded as a reaction to her own existential conflicts, for even though she rejects Denis as a lover, she still leads him on by means of ambiguous acts and words. Throughout the story, her connection with Gombauld strengthens and she ends up choosing the painter over the poet.
Gombauld is a successful young painter with a bright, easy-going and attractive personality. During his stay at Crome, he turns his hand at a couple of paintings including a portrait of Anne, with whom, he is in love. Gombauld is oddly detached from other people. He is self-centered, and the greatest part of his time is dedicated either to his own art or to Anne herself. Gombauld is also portrayed as an honest and frank character. He openly rejects the advances of Mary Bracegirdle at one point of the story, and tells Anne, at another, that she was abusing her friendship with the young Denis by flirting with him.
Mary is portrayed as a curiously innocent and somewhat naive flapper. She faces a number of inner conflicts in connection with sexuality and repression. Ignorant of a methodical course to solve them, Mary attempts to satiate her sexually suppressed desires instead by making advances towards both Gombauld and Denis. Both young men prove to have no interest in her, however, and she ends up accordingly in a dangerously modern union with the libertine Ivor Lombard. Being a man of the world whose sole objective is pleasure, the latter embarks her on a brief illusion, which ends soon after his departure from Crome leaving the young woman somewhat devastated and bitterly disappointed.
Ivor is portrayed as a hedonistic character. He is a young dandy whose sole principle in life is the pursuit of aesthetic objects and temporary pleasures. Ivor has no moral compass, and makes advances towards Jenny mistaking her to be Anne, before moving to Anne herself, and then to the more responsive Mary Bracegirdle. Ivor’s strength lays in his charms, good looks, and seemingly openness of character. Yet, soon enough, the reader realizes that these are mere components of his tricky personality, and that he is incapable of any elaborate emotion. At the end of their acquaintance, he heartlessly abandons Mary by sending her parting poetry verses after his removal from Crome.
Mr. Barbecue-Smith is another intellectual guest at the Crome estate. He is portrayed as a successful writer who is admired by many in society including the little circle of his hosts as well. Being used to be asked for his own opinions, he does not seem to be cognizant of when they are wanted and when they are not. Denis, for instance, nurtures a certain dislike for the literary advices bestowed upon him against his own will by this renowned writer.
Mr. Scogan is one of the guests at the Crome estate. His favorite diversion seems to be the initiation of philosophical and existential conversations, especially with Denis. Many passages in the book point out his own inner conflicts and his beliefs that life is all but meaningless.
Henry is the owner of the Crome estate. He is husband to Priscilla and uncle to Anne. Henry seems to be alienated from the present and from other people. For which reason, he attempts to flee this inner conflict in the act of reliving the past over and over again by writing the history of his own estate and its occupants throughout the years.
Priscilla is Henry’s wife. Just like her husband, she is alienated and in constant lookout for something to hold unto in order to vanquish the meaninglessness of life. She, thus, nurtures an obsessive interest towards astrology, to which, she dedicates the greater part of her time and money.
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