Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Allan Quatermain, an English explorer and sportsman. He agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis find the latter’s lost brother. He is the leader of the expedition to find the brother and, also, Solomon’s treasure.
Sir Henry Curtis
Sir Henry Curtis, Quatermain’s friend and companion on the expedition.
Captain John Good
Captain John Good, a retired army officer, Quatermain’s friend and companion on the expedition.
George Neville, Sir Henry Curtis’ brother, who has changed his name. Lost while hunting for King Solomon’s mines, he is found and given one-third of the treasure the expedition discovers.
José Silvestre, a Portuguese explorer who, as he was dying, gave Quatermain a map showing the location of King Solomon’s mines.
Ventvögel, a Hottentot hired by Quatermain for the safari. He freezes to death in the mountains during the expedition.
Umbopa, a Zulu hired by Quatermain. He is really Ignosi, hereditary chief of the Kukuana tribe. He regains his rightful place and befriends the white men.
Khiva, a Zulu hired by Quatermain. He dies saving Captain Good from an enraged elephant.
Infadoos, a native subchieftain among...
(The entire section is 298 words.)
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Themes and Characters
King Solomon's Mines is unified by many meaningful themes, the broadest of which is the struggle between good and evil embodied in the heroes' quest to discover the fate of Sir Henry Curtis's lost brother. Like many heroes of ancient myths, Quatermain and his comrades must overcome obstacles imposed either by the forces of nature (e.g., the merciless heat of the desert, the treacherous cold of the mountains) or by evil powers, embodied in Twala, the usurper king of the Kukuana people, and his hideous sorceress, Gagool.
Though they are somewhat "larger than life," Quatermain, Sir Henry, and Captain Good are not merely embodiments of abstract moral principles. They are depicted as real human beings who find themselves in extraordinary situations. Nevertheless, as Captain Good's name implies, they do represent the forces of "good" in a battle against evil. The evil characters are unremittingly evil. Neither Twala, his son Scragga, nor Gagool have any redeeming characteristics whatsoever.
Furthermore, the price of the heroes' victory over evil is high. In the course of their expedition, many admirable characters die violently, and Twala's butchery of his own people adds to the atmosphere of sinister violence. In the battles between the armies for control of the kingdom, thousands of men on both sides are slaughtered.
The latter half of the novel is in fact filled with carnage. Death is everywhere, and it becomes a major...
(The entire section is 667 words.)