Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Makak, “an old Negro,” the hermit of Monkey Mountain. Sixty years old and ugly, he was named for the macaque monkey, which he resembles. He is by trade a wood-gatherer and charcoal burner, but in his dream he is also the king of Africa, following the instructions of an apparition of a beautiful white woman. Partly mad, partly possessed, and partly drunk, he possibly dreams the entire play in Lestrade’s cell, after a night of drunkenness in a local tavern. He is arrested for stealing coal and for disorderly conduct. In an elaborate allegorical configuration, he is the Christ figure at the beginning of his public life, performing miracles, collecting followers, and leaving behind exaggerated stories of his wonders, both betrayed and believed, as the Lion of Africa who will lead his black brethren back to Africa, but only after killing their “whiteness.” He experiences a sort of apotheosis when he kills the “white” woman who haunted him into this religious and political mission.
Corporal Lestrade, a mulatto guard of the town jail, “doing the white man’s work” in jailing and questioning Makak but finally “confessing” to his blackness in the final apotheosis. At first cruel in the use of his power, he forces the villagers into hypocritically agreeing to his absurd statements and pursues Makak to “hunt” him like an animal. The name of his rank suggests his allegorical...
(The entire section is 586 words.)
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