"In The Family Reunion... is no real action, there are no real persons." Consider 'The Family Reunion' by T.S Eliot in the light of this comment.

Essay by pibandpobUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, November 2004

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Although 'The Family Reunion' has characters of a sort, but they do not appear to be very well drawn. During the play, Eliot uses a lot of symbolism, and portrays the characters to be representative of certain types of people, rather than being in-depth individuals. During this essay, I will examine why this is so, and the reasons that Eliot may have chosen to depict his characters in this way.

Amy is the widow of Lord Monchensey, and is the centre of Wishwood. She sits in the house, and never goes out. Amy holds onto people and expects them to come to her, in a somewhat predatory way. The other characters come and go, although Harry is the only one whom we actually see leave. None of them seem too rounded, and are rather more symbolic than actually real.

The periphery characters seem to be mainly on the surface, and retreat away from their inner spirituality.

It would seem that to Eliot, ignoring this is denying half of the self. Harry is portrayed as the most spiritual character, although this seems to be at a sacrifice of any 'normality' as a person. Agatha is the only main character who manages to remain in both 'worlds'. When she's being spiritual her language is heightened by poetry, yet she can still converse sufficiently well in the 'real' world. In 'The Art Of T.S. Eliot', Helen Gardner also says that "The characters at the centre are presented almost wholly from within; the surrounding characters almost wholly from without." (p 156, Gardner)

The more 'surface' characters are "individualised by their differing reactions to the hero's dilemma and by the characteristic verse patterns each is given to speak." (p 95, Smith, C. H) It seems that these characters are left intentionally undeveloped...