Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Fraülein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd

Fraülein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd (mah-TIHL-deh fon tsahnt), the founder and psychiatrist of a Swiss sanatorium. Dr. von Zahnd, about fifty-five years old, is the last member of a prestigious family that boasted powerful figures in finance, politics, and the military. Her own love of power, masked initially by the appearance of compassion and philanthropy, emerges as the dominant force in the play. Dr. von Zahnd is “an old hunchbacked spinster” who masterminds the entrapment of a genius physicist and the exploitation of his knowledge. She heads a huge cartel that aspires to world, even universal, domination.

Johann Wilhelm Möbius

Johann Wilhelm Möbius (YOH-hahn VIHL-helm MEH-bee-uhs), a physicist, solver of “the problem of gravitation,” discoverer of the “Unitary Theory of Elementary Particles” and the “Principle of Universal Discovery,” and a patient at the sanatorium. Möbius, forty years old, has feigned madness, claiming to have visions of King Solomon, so that he would be committed to the sanatorium, where he presumes that his revolutionary findings are safe from discovery and potentially devastating misuse. When a nurse, in love with him and believing him sane, makes plans for his release, Möbius strangles her, and when two foreign agents attempt to lure him out of the sanatorium, he convinces them that it is...

(The entire section is 630 words.)