Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Maniac, a shabbily dressed man with wild hair, thin spectacles, and a goatee. The Maniac is an inventive and unpredictable subversive who has been arrested twelve times for illegal impersonations. His disguises and personae include a magistrate, Professor Marco Maria Malpiero, and—perhaps his true identity—Paulo Davidovitch Gandolpho, Prose Pimpernel of the Permanent Revolution and sports editor of Lotta Continua, a Jewish conspiracy newspaper. The Maniac’s revolutionary fervor is grounded in a deep knowledge of fields as diverse as railroads, grammar, explosives, and psychology. He is not only a disciple of Sigmund Freud but also proud to be a certified psychotic. His manner is light and cheerful, suffused with delightful mimicry and a sharply sardonic wit. His hobby is the theater, and in the police station he is at once scenarist, actor, and audience, alternately manipulating, observing, and cooperating with the police buffoons. He chatters endlessly and distractingly but is capable of stating the truth in boldly direct terms: He is both jester and seer, a wise fool. When the discussion turns to political theory, the Maniac becomes didactic and dogmatic, a seemingly disembodied voice of communist ideology. In his subtle way, he is a moral catalyst, forcing the policemen to expose the truth about the anarchist’s death and maneuvering Felleti into an inescapable moral dilemma. The Maniac does not offer to sacrifice his own...
(The entire section is 586 words.)
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Of the three upper-echelon police characters appearing in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Inspector Bertozzo spends the least amount of time on stage. He has a role at the play's beginning, as the policeman interviewing the Maniac for impersonating a psychiatrist. He sees that the Maniac has been arrested many times for impersonation and does not believe the Maniac's claim that he is mad and therefore not responsible for his actions. He seems intent on finding a way to make a charge against the Maniac stick. However, after enduring enough of the Maniac's double-talk, he becomes utterly exasperated and tells him to leave the station.
In act 2, Inspector Bertozzo returns as an important element in the play's closing farce. He knows that the Maniac is not the forensics expert that he is pretending to be and wants to expose him to the Superintendent and Sports Jacket. They forestall any revelation on the part of Bertozzo, as they believe that he is going to reveal the Maniac to be a judge, which would be disastrous, given that they have told the journalist that he is a forensics expert. Bertozzo must put up with a great number of kicks—every time he opens his mouth to protest the Maniac's deception, the Superintendent and Sports Jacket must prevent him from doing so. These farcical kicks are more than just slapstick, however; they are designed to remind the audience of the physical abuses the anarchist...
(The entire section is 1513 words.)