Notes on key characters in Brideshead Revisited

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Charles Ryder

He is the protagonist and narrator of the story who was raised primarily by his father after his mother died. His family is financially stable but emotionally hollow. He is unsure about what he wants in life and is dazzled by the flamboyant and seemingly carefree Lord Sebastian Flyte. Charles is dissatisfied with what life has to offer, having modest success as a student and then later a painter, however less so as an army officer. He crosses paths repeatedly with all members of the Marchmain family and everytime they make an unforgettable impact on his life.

Sebastian Flyte

He is the younger son of Lady and Lord Marchmain, he is haunted by a profound unhappiness brought on by the oppressiveness of his Mother's religion. He is charming and attractive but numbs himself with alcohol. He forms a deep friendship with Charles but over time the need to feel numb overrides the feelings he has for Charles and therefore alcohol becomes his main desire.

Julia Flyte

She is the eldest daugher of Lord and Lady Marchmain who comes out at a debutaute at the beginning of the story and later goes on to marry Rex Mottram. Charles loves her for much of their lives, due in part to the fact she and Sebastian look so much alike. She at first refuses to be controlled by Catholisism but then later turns to it. 

Rex Mottram

He is a Canadian who only cares about his political, social and material ambitions. He wins a seat in the House of Commons and see's marrying Julia and getting in with the Marchmains as just another step on the ladder to the top. Eventually he becomes disappointed with the results and he and Julia agree to lead seperate lives.

Edward 'Ned' Ryder

He is Charles father and although a distant figure he has a sharp wit. He is determined to make Charles stand on his own 2 feet. At one point in the novel Charles is forced to spend the holidays with his Father as he has already spent all of his allowence for the term. Ned proceeds to make Charles feel as…

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