Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Paul Rockoffer

Paul Rockoffer, a disillusioned artist. In a time of increasing dehumanization and mechanization of society, Rockoffer finds the pursuit of art meaningless. Forty-six years old, the fair-haired artist, dressed in black, mourns the waste of his life and the isolation and futility of his existence as an artist. In the face of eternal gray boredom, Rockoffer succumbs to the enticements of bourgeois contentment in his engagement to Ella. He is, however, torn by past yearnings as represented by the sensual statue. At the same time, Pope Julius II offers him a life of total devotion to art and Hyrcan IV attempts to convince him of the possibilities of absolute power. Despite his waverings between a life of art and a life of power, Rockoffer (having killed Hyrcan IV), as Hyrcan V, intends to create a reality in which art, philosophy, love, and science will become “one huge mishmash,” thereby fulfilling the Nietzschean notion of the artist as superman.

Julius II

Julius II, a sixteenth century pope and patron of the arts. A projection of Rockoffer’s mind, he is a visitor from the past and represents Renaissance values of strength, intelligence, commitment, and belief in individualism. As a patron of the arts in his support of such artists as Raphael and Michelangelo, Julius II believes that art transcends all ideological absolutes. Dressed in the Renaissance robes from his portrait by Titian, he serves as a reminder of the waning of Humanism and individualism. At times, his viewpoint is caricatured; in the face of...

(The entire section is 644 words.)