The protagonist and narrator of The Remains of the Day. Stevens is the epitome of perfect English butler. He is meticulous and proper in everything he does, and his manner of speaking is always formal and refined.
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The head housekeeper of Darlington Hall until just before World War II. Miss Kenton, like Stevens, excels at her job, but she is less formal and more personable than Stevens. She and Stevens often bicker about household affairs.
The nobleman and proprietor of Darlington Hall for whom Stevens worked until Lord Darlington passed away. Lord Darlington is a traditional English gentleman who has honorable instincts and old-fashioned opinions. His manner of speaking, like Stevens's, is formal and refined.
The new owner of Darlington Hall after Lord Darlington's death, and, as such, Stevens's new employer. Mr. Farraday is a very easygoing American gentleman, and frequently jokes around with Stevens, who does not know how to handle such "banter." Mr. Farraday does not figure very prominently in the novel.
A world-class butler for many years who comes to work at Darlington Hall when he is already in his seventies and struggling with arthritis. Mr. William Stevens and his son only communicate very formally until the night the elder Stevens is on his deathbed. Stevens's father is extremely dedicated to his work as a butler; Stevens often holds him up as an example of what a "great butler" should be.
Lord Darlington's godson. After Reggie Cardinal's father passes away, Lord Darlington treats the young man as his kin, though their political views differ widely. Cardinal is a journalist, and it infuriates him that the Nazis have used Lord Darlington's noble instincts to turn him into a pawn for their fascist regime. Cardinal is the one who tells Stevens directly that the Nazis have been using Lord Darlington—Cardinal is amazed that Stevens has not noticed himself. Cardinal is later killed in the war, in Belgium.
A close friend of Lord Darlington's, and Reginald Cardinal's father. During the March 1923 conference that Lord Darlington hosts, Cardinal makes a speech saying that the German reparation payments should be stopped, and that the French troops should be withdrawn from the Ruhr region.
Butlers in other distinguished houses during Lord Darlington's time. When any of these men came to Darlington Hall, Stevens could look forward to a pleasant chat by the fire, in which they would discuss various problems they were having at work, or larger questions such as debating the definition of "dignity." Throughout the novel, Stevens constantly holds these men up as paragons of all that a good butler should be.
The German Ambassador during World War II, who makes several trips to Darlington Hall. Herr Ribbentrop uses Lord Darlington to exert Nazi influence on British heads of state.
An American gentleman who visited Darlington Hall for the March 1923 conference. He is a congenial man who smiles often. On the last night of the conference he makes a speech denouncing Lord Darlington as an "amateur" whose noble instincts are out of date in the modern world.
A Frenchman with a small amount of political influence in his home country. M. Dupont is present at the same March 1923 conference as Mr. Lewis. M. Dupont constantly badgers Stevens to get him more bandages for his feet, which are sore from sightseeing.
A German friend of Lord Darlington who commits suicide after World War I, presumably due to the dire postwar economic conditions in Germany.
A gentleman in Moscombe who gives Stevens a ride back to his car the morning after he stays at the Taylors. Although the other residents of Moscombe think Stevens is some sort of lord because of all the famous people he has met, Dr. Carlisle correctly guesses that Stevens is a manservant.
An American couple who are friends of Mr. Farraday and come to visit Darlington Hall. When Mrs. Wakefield asks Stevens if he worked for Lord Darlington, he denies it, raising doubts in her mind about the legitimacy of Mr. Farraday's purchase of the mansion.
The doctor who comes to Darlington Hall the first time Stevens's father falls ill, and again when Stevens's father dies.
Two Jewish maids at Darlington Hall whom Lord Darlington orders Stevens to fire simply because of their religion.
The maid hired to alleviate the staff shortage after the dismissal of Ruth and Sarah. Lisa applies for the position with dubious references, causing Stevens to be wary of her professional promise. Though Lisa improves quickly under the Miss Kenton's tutelage, she eventually elopes with the footman.
The leader of the British Union of Fascists, who visited Darlington Hall several times.
Another member of the British Union of Fascists. Mrs. Barnet is very glamorous and intelligent. Stevens contends that it is due to her influence on Lord Darlington that he fires the Jewish maids.
A member of the "blackshirt" organization (British Union of Fascists) and a Nazi sympathizer who used to visit Darlington Hall.
The employer Stevens's father's served before coming to work at Darlington Hall.
The Foreign Secretary of Britain during the period culminating in World War II.
The Prime Minister of Britain during the end of World War I and the early postwar period. Mr. George attended a conference in Switzerland to review the Treaty of Versailles in 1923, prompting Lord Darlington to precede the conference with a gathering of dignitaries at Darlington hall several months prior.
The Prime Minister of Britain during World War II. Mr. Churchill visited Darlington Hall on several occasions before he became Prime Minister.
A famous playwright who came to dine at Darlington Hall, and who examined the finely polished silver when he sat at the dinner table.
A man Stevens runs into when he is crossing a field, in search of help, after his car runs out of gas near the town of Moscombe. Mr. Taylor insists that Stevens accept the hospitality of him and his wife, Mrs. Taylor, for the night.
A resident of Moscombe who is a passionate politician. During dinner at the Taylors' house, Harry tells Stevens that he believes that people exhibit dignity only when they accept their responsibility to vote and strongly exercise their own opinions.
The current cook in Darlington Hall.
The cook in Darlington Hall when Lord Darlington was alive.
Two girls Stevens has recently hired to work at Darlington Hall.