Father Adolf is the presiding priest in Eseldorf. When he learns of the magician Balthasar’s magical powers, Father Adolf determines to have him burned at the stake as a heretic. However, he succeeds only in arresting Number 44, who is magically disguised as Balthasar, and who magically escapes before being burned. Father Adolf then declares that the Duplicates are evil spirits, and condemns them to be burned at the stake. However, every time he arrests one of the Duplicates, the Duplicate magically escapes before being burned, and Father Adolf eventually gives up trying. Father Adolf represents a medieval mentality of superstition, which he uses to justify asserting his power over others.
Adam Binks is a sixty-year-old proofreader who lives in the castle and works in the print shop.
Doangivadam is an itinerant printer. When the men in the print shop go on strike, August prays for Doangivadam to come and help with the situation. A few days later, Doangivadam arrives at the castle, and immediately takes the side of Number 44 against the other print shop workers. Doangivadam expresses his approval of August for befriending Number 44.
August Feldner, also known as Martin von Giesbach in Marget Regen’s dreams, is a sixteenyear- old printer’s apprentice and the narrator of ‘‘The Mysterious Stranger.’’ When Number 44 arrives at the castle, August is immediately sympathetic to him. However, he is afraid to show his sympathy, for fear of being ostracized by the other men who work in the print shop. August manages to secretly befriend Number 44, who teaches him how to make himself invisible. August also learns that Number 44 can hear his thoughts. After the magician Balthasar apparently kills Number 44, August is the only one who knows that Number 44 is still alive. August witnesses many strange and fantastical events in the presence of Number 44, who takes him on various adventures traveling throughout the world and backward in time.
August falls in love with Marget, the master’s niece, but finds that she only loves him when she is dreaming and he is invisible. During these dreams, Marget believes that her name is Elisabeth von Arnim and that August’s name is Martin von Giesbach. August finds that he has a rival for Marget’s love in his Duplicate, Emil Schwarz, whom Marget is in love with during her waking hours. After Number 44 magically dissolves Emil into thin air, August no longer has a rival for Marget’s love.
In the end, Number 44 tells August that nothing in the universe exists, except for pure Thought, and that life is all a dream and an illusion. August concludes the story by stating, ‘‘I knew, and realized, that all he said was true.’’ This ending implies that the whole story of ‘‘The Mysterious Stranger,’’ as well as all of the characters in it, is a creation of
Gustav Fischer is a twenty-seven-year-old printer who lives in the castle and works in the print shop.
Moses Haas is a twenty-eight-year-old printer who lives in the castle and works in the print shop.
Balthasar Hoffman is an astrologist and magician who lives in the castle. When Number 44 arrives and seems to display magical powers, everyone assumes it is Balthasar who has bestowed these powers upon him. Later, Balthasar magically reduces Number 44 to ashes. When Father Adolf learns of this event, he declares Balthasar a heretic and condemns him to be burned at the stake. However, no one is able to find Balthasar after this point. Throughout the rest of the story, Number 44 appears magically disguised as Balthasar. Number 44 tells August that he hopes to promote Balthasar’s reputation as a magician by arranging things so that the others attribute various magical events to Balthasar’s powers.
Katrina is a sixty-year-old cook and housekeeper who lives and works in the castle. When Number 44 first arrives, everyone is ready to throw him out, but Katrina rushes to his defense. Throughout the story, Katrina treats Number 44 as if he were her own son, and does everything she can to prevent others from harming him. When Balthasar reduces Number 44...
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