Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Henry IV

Henry IV, an apparent madman who claims that he is the medieval German king Henry IV. In his fifties, Henry lives in a villa in Italy, surrounded by his advisers, who are really his hired companions. Henry is visited by a group of persons from his past: his nephew, di Nolli; his former love, Matilda; and a psychiatrist, among others. During the visit, Henry, who actually recovered from his illness a dozen years ago but has kept up pretenses to remain contented, pretends to fall in love with Frida, Matilda’s daughter, whom he calls his true love. Taunted by Matilda’s lover, Baron Belcredi, Henry is gradually driven to violence, and he kills Belcredi in a fit of rage.

Marchioness Matilda Spina

Marchioness Matilda Spina (SPEE-nah), a forty-five-year-old widow. She was once the object of Henry’s attention before his mental illness. At that time, there was a historical pageant at which everyone pretended to be historical characters. Henry was Henry IV, and Matilda was Matilda of Tuscany. When Henry’s horse shied, he fell and struck his head. When he awoke, he thought himself to be Henry IV. Matilda now has a relationship with Baron Belcredi, and she is shocked to see Henry paying attention to her daughter Frida, who looks exactly like Matilda did in her youth.

Marquis Charles di Nolli

Marquis Charles di Nolli (dee

(The entire section is 526 words.)