Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Kaspar, whose name denotes a clown in German. He is described by the playwright as bearing no resemblance to any comedian; rather, he looks like Frankenstein’s monster (a creature artificially imbued with life) or King Kong (a gigantic gorilla who, on film, demolished Manhattan). He starts the play by emerging from the slit in mid-curtain only after numerous fumbling attempts. The playwright’s description of his appearance is precise about his costume (he has a round, wide-brimmed hat, a light-colored shirt, a colorful jacket with many metal buttons, wide pants, and clumsy shoes) and vague about his age and his height; Kaspar’s “face is a mask . . . pale . . . life-like; it may have been fashioned to fit the face of the actor.” Blundering about the stage, sometimes falling down, and upsetting furniture, Kaspar keeps repeating the single sentence that he knows: “I want to be a person like somebody else was once.” The playwright states that Kaspar has no concept of what the sentence means. Three prompters soon begin speaking to Kaspar; they are never seen on stage. Through the course of sixty-five brief sections, Kaspar finds himself both taught and tortured by this invisible trio. He then sits quietly, struggling futilely to keep his single sentence but finding it exorcised through the pressures of other sentences with which the prompters bombard him. Taught diverse grammatical constructions, Kaspar at first distorts them...

(The entire section is 446 words.)