Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams, also called Bill, who inhabits bits and pieces of the epic poem, sometimes as himself and sometimes as another persona who more resembles a character. The author includes himself as a character to add legitimacy to his use of Paterson, New Jersey, and the Passaic River as characters; clearly, they are personifications. Williams is present in one incarnation or another to explain his theory about how a city can come to represent its inhabitants and may even be representative of the American character. Williams tells many stories and answers selected letters and comments given to him by representatives of Paterson and other towns and cities, such as Newark. The various manifestations of Williams are not always similar, and they do not always represent what is often referred to as a “character.”
Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson, New Jersey, a city that takes on characteristics of a human being, a broad personification that is at times living and breathing as a representative American city and at other times merely in possession of those attributes a good city should have. Significant space is given to bare description of parts of the city. The city is described as a “great beast,” and Williams talks to and about it—its seasons, its catastrophes, and its inhabitants. Williams debates with himself over the difficulty, resulting from the poet’s perceptions, of...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
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