The Jolly Corner | Study Guide

Henry James

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The Jolly Corner | Character Analysis


Spencer Brydon

Spencer Brydon was born in New York City to a wealthy family. He is an insecure late-middle-aged gentleman who has spent most of his adult life in Europe. He has no profession, having supported himself from properties he owns in New York. Returning to New York to check on his properties, he becomes obsessed with who and what he would have been had he stayed in New York. He falls in love with an old acquaintance, Alice Staverton, and this exacerbates his feelings of insecurity. He finally resolves his inner conflicts with Alice's help and support.

Alice Staverton

Alice Staverton is a middle-aged woman who has lived in New York City her whole life. As a young woman she knew Spencer Brydon before he moved to Europe. The details of her life are not revealed, but her character is. She is perceptive, intuitive, and understanding of Spencer Brydon. She is in love with him and perhaps has been in love with him for the 33 years he has been away. She supports him in his torturous inner conflicts about his self-identity. She discovers him unconscious at the foot of the stairs in the empty mansion and comforts him as he regains consciousness.

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