Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mrs. Muskat

Mrs. Muskat, the owner of a merry-go-round in Budapest.


Liliom, her successful barker, discharged for flirting with Julie, whom he eventually marries. He refuses to go back to Mrs. Muskat because he has plans to rob a factory paymaster. When caught, he stabs himself and dies. In a vision, after sixteen years of purification by fire, he returns to Earth to find himself idealized by his wife and his daughter.


Julie, a country girl who marries Liliom.


Louise, their daughter. She has been taught by Julie to idolize her father. When he returns from death for a day after sixteen years and strikes Louise in irritation, she says the blow felt tender, like a caress.


Marie, Julie’s friend, who is lured by Wolf’s uniform and marries him.


Wolf, a porter.

Mrs. Hollunder

Mrs. Hollunder, Julie’s aunt, who runs a photograph gallery.


Ficsur, who encourages Liliom to steal a knife from the Hollunder kitchen and hold up the cashier.


Linzman, the factory paymaster whom Liliom plans to rob. Having already paid off the workers, he has no money when Liliom accosts him.

Two policemen

Two policemen, who carry the dying Liliom to the photographer’s shop and later figure as heavenly police in his vision.

Liliom Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Clark, Barrett H., and George Freedley, eds. A History of Modern Drama. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1947. Molnár is considered in a section on Central European playwrights.

Gassner, John. Masters of the Drama. New York: Random House, 1940. An excellent chapter on the German dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann and his followers offers an account of Molnár’s dramatic art, linking the fantastic and expressionist elements to the unusual blend of realism and romanticism pioneered by Hauptmann.

Gergely, Emro Joseph. Hungarian Drama in New York: American Adaptations 1908-1940. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1947. A balanced, perceptive, highly informed account of Hungarian dramas adapted for the U.S. stage. Features substantial and penetrating analyses of all of Molnár’s major plays, and discusses a number of his lesser works.

Remenyi, Joseph. Hungarian Writers and Literature: Modern Novelists, Critics, and Poets. Edited and with an introduction by August J. Molnar. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1964. The essay on Molnár assesses his plays in a literary rather than a dramatic context, examining them in terms of the seriousness and complexity of their themes, the deployment and use of symbols and imagery, and the adequacy of his style to his subject matter.

Varkonyi, Istvan. Ferenc Molnár and the Austro-Hungarian “Fin de Siècle.” New York: Peter Lang, 1992. This book-length study of the playwright in English focuses on the work he produced before 1920. Argues that Molnár forged a new literary style, based in realism, that enabled him to deal more effectively with the complex issues of social transformation, industrialization, and urbanization than could be done in the fundamentally Romantic style favored by other writers of the period.