Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ezra Pound, the internationally recognized poet. During the thirteen-year span of the play’s action, which begins when he is sixty years old, he becomes increasingly irrational and, eventually, unhinged. He is trapped in a prison that represents both his real prison (and, later, madhouse) and the limitations of a practical and political world on the imagination of a genius poet. His expansive temperament and misguided trust in Benito Mussolini (whose country he had adopted), together with his love of classical Roman culture, collide with the political realities of World War II, causing him to broadcast anti-Semitic sentiments in support of the Axis war effort. He relives his arrest, trial, and acquittal (on grounds of insanity). The other characters are figments of his deranged mind, visiting him in moments of decreasing lucidity, from his imprisonment in Italy as a traitor to the United States to his release from an American insane asylum.
Antonio Vivaldi, the eighteenth century composer. In Ezra’s imagination, Vivaldi is a companion to Mussolini. Musical but taken by dance-hall ditties of the war era, he represents a purer, more artistically viable time that, although Ezra fails to realize it, passed away long ago. His music “The Four Seasons” underscores the action. The actor playing the role transforms himself into other characters, including Amprim, the interrogator, and several...
(The entire section is 380 words.)
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