In Victorian England, Soames Forsyte, a man from a wealthy and arrogant family, meets a falls in love with Irene Herron, a poor woman. After taking her step-mother's advice, Irene marries Soames. After four years of marriage, Irene is not happy in her marriage because she does not love him. Soames tries to win her affections by giving her the things he believes every woman wants, dresses and jewels. He can not give her the one thing her heart desires, freedom. Out of desperation, he asks his cousin June's fiance, Phil Bosinny, to build him a house in the country. Irene sees the house as a prison. During the construction of the house, Phil and Irene fall in love and have an affair. Phil gives Irene the courage to leave her unhappy marriage and they plan to run away together after the house is built. The affair causes a scandal in the family. When Soames finds out, he sues Phil saying he broke the contract they agreed on for the house. One night, Soames takes advantage of Irene. She tells Phil what has happened and out of anger he goes out to confront Soames. While in search, he gets in an accident and dies. Irene still leaves Soames and finds her own place away from him. Years later, Irene comes in contact with Soames's uncle Jolyon who leaves her money after he dies out of friendship. Jolyon's son, Young Jolyon, is her trustee. Soames falls for a young French girl, Annette, whom he wants to marry. He goes in search for Irene for a divorce but has no current evidence for the divorice. Instead, he decides to try to win her back so he can have an heir. She runs from him and finds friendship and protection in Young Jolyon. Soames decides on a divorice after he finds Irene and Young Jolyon together and Irene tells him she and Young Jolyon are in love. Irene and Jolyon marry and have a son, while Soames marries Annette and has a daughter. Is this family scandal over? Is Irene finally free from Soames?