Ishiguro's Remains of the Day is a strong study in masterful characterization. In the always professional Stevens, Ishiguro crafts a convincing character that serves as a strong instrument to convey the observations on the human condition that he wishes to expound.
Stevens gladly sacrifices his personal life (such as it is) in order to provide good service to Lord Darlington, and finds dignity and purpose in "serving those great gentlemen at the hub of this world." In his unstinting professionalism Stevens is oblivious to the overtures of Miss Kenton, Darlington Hall's housekeeper. Ultimately, Stevens questions his loyalty to the perfidious Lord Darlington and regrets his decision to ignore Miss Kenton's romantic advances.
While the tone is rather gloomy up until the very end, Remains of the Day is actually and uplifting and reaffirming tale. Stevens, while never breaking his buttoned-up professional character, realizes that he must make time for himself and forgive himself for allowing his personal affairs to fall into a state of desuetude.
Remains of the Day falls short in dealing with the other characters, none of which exhibit the strength and believability of Stevens. The backward-looking narration style is effective in emphasizing Stevens's increasingly introspective nature, but Ishiguro is unable to build other strong characters to interact with Stevens. Furthermore, the fact that Stevens has his epiphany with a stranger is a strong break in character, and proves to be an ineffective climax. Overall, Ishiguro crafts a good, but not by any means great, read in Remains of the Day.