(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Alfonso VIII

Alfonso VIII (ahl-FOHN-soh), the king of Castile. Made ruler of Castile as a child after the deposition of his tyrant predecessor, Alfonso has been a wise and just ruler of his people. Attracted to Rachel, a beautiful and vain young Jew, he lets his passion cause him to neglect his obligations in the face of an imminent war. He finally realizes and acknowledges his weakness, forgives those who have plotted Rachel’s destruction, and reaffirms his duty to the people.


Rachel (rah-CHEHL), a Jewish woman of Toledo. Walking in the royal garden where Jews are forbidden during the king’s outing, she is pursued by guards and runs to Alfonso for protection. Attracting the monarch, she arouses in him a passion for her that leads to his shame and remorse and to her death.


Isaac (ee-SAHK), Rachel’s mercenary father, who is more concerned about his profits than his daughter’s death.


Esther (ehs-tehr), Rachel’s gentle sister. Ashamed of her sister’s wantonness and her father’s greed, she blames them equally with Alfonso for Rachel’s tragic death.

Eleanor of England

Eleanor of England, the queen of Castile. Realizing that Alfonso’s infatuation for Rachel is causing him to neglect his responsibilities, she plots the death of Rachel, for which she is forgiven when the king finally acknowledges the foolishness of his passion.


Manrique (mahn-REE-kay), the count of Lara and the ally of Queen Eleanor.

Don Garceran

Don Garceran (gahr-THAY-rahn), Manrique’s son, who is loyal to Alfonso.

Doña Clara

Doña Clara (KLAH-rah), a lady in waiting to Eleanor and the betrothed of Don Garceran.