Margaret Peel holds a more senior lectureship than Dixon at the same provincial college. Margaret and Dixon have become friends, as Margaret is sympathetic to Dixon's feelings about the Welches. Margaret, however, is generally more open to people such as Mrs. Welch and Evan Johns, who are Dixon's sworn enemies. Margaret appears to be a threat to Dixon throughout the novel, employing emotional tactics that often leave Dixon speechless. Margaret is less beautiful and refined than Christine Callaghan, and she overcompensates for her homeliness with poorly-applied make-up and garish clothing.

Margaret can be as unaware and self-centered as Professor Welch. She can also be jealous and condescending toward Dixon, even referring to him as "Poor James," as if he were a child. Margaret vacillates from emotional instability to a secretive tone when she talks to Dixon, and Dixon recognizes the loneliness behind each of these modes. At the beginning of the novel, Margaret's largest fault is her tendency toward the dramatic, but as the novel proceeds she becomes more manipulative, and downright mean when she is crossed. The culmination of her manipulation is Catchpole's revelation that Margaret has faked her suicide attempt to gain romantic attention from either himself or from Dixon. This revelation reflects badly on Margaret, not just because of her scheming, but because Margaret is even in love with Dixon or Catchpole.