(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Baron Sprengel

Baron Sprengel and

Baroness Sprengel

Baroness Sprengel, principals in a divorce case. Having agreed between themselves on terms for an amicable settlement of their difficulties, the baron and baroness go to court confident that they will divide between them the care of their child and that the details of their quarrel will not be aired in public. When the husband and wife find that it is the court and not themselves who will decide on the disposition of the child, their fears of losing him and the goading of the court cause them to become overt enemies hurling charges and countercharges at each other. When the jury places the child in the custody of a peasant couple for a year, the baron suggests that their anguish is a judgment of God.

The judge

The judge, a young man taking the bench for the first time. Observing the bitter quarreling of the baron and baroness, he adjourns the court in despair of doing justice. He seeks help from the pastor, who advises him always to stick to the letter of the law and avoid personal involvements if he wants to keep his sanity.

The pastor

The pastor, the spiritual adviser to the judge.


Alexandersson, a farmer who loses a case in which it is agreed that he is actually right but technically guilty. He later appears as a witness (probably false) against Baroness Sprengel.

Alma Jonsson

Alma Jonsson, Alexandersson’s servant, whom he accuses of theft. He loses the case.