The Hamlet of Stepney Green Characters

Bernard Kops

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

David (Davy) Levy

David (Davy) Levy, the twenty-two-year-old son of Sam and Bessie Levy, his Jewish parents. He is tall and intelligent, but he has no regular job, and his great ambitions are to be a crooner and to “make people happy.” His intelligence is undirected, and his musical ability is unlikely to make him popular. He appears dissatisfied, melancholy, and quixotic. He rejects not only his father’s plans for him but also Hava’s love. He wants to shock the older generation; for example, he appears in a teddy boy outfit at his father’s funeral as a mark of protest. Parallels to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet appear both in his character and in his desire to avenge his father’s death. He becomes quite unbalanced in his behavior at the Kaddish and also later, when his mother talks of remarrying. Like Hamlet, he does not really achieve anything by revenge, but unlike Hamlet, he drops his quest for revenge. The play ends with his declaring his love to Hava and accepting his mother’s remarriage, to Solly Segal, as revenge enough.

Sam Levy

Sam Levy, a Jewish pickled-herring seller in the East End of London. He is sixty-five years old and appears to be a hypochondriac. He suffers a heart attack at the end of act 1 and dies. For the rest of the play, he appears as a ghost visible only to David. He is portrayed as very confused in his values and, especially, in what he wants for David. At times, he upbraids David for not settling down, yet sometimes he urges David to find himself. Sam believes that his own confined life and less than happy marriage contributed to his death. As a ghost, he not only contributes to David’s bizarre behavior but also breaks up the séance organized by his wife by indicating that he is happy for her to marry Solly. In the end, he realizes that David’s desire for...

(The entire section is 759 words.)