Saul (SAWL), the aging king of Israel who, influenced by his cousin Abner and the priests of Nob, becomes paranoid and turns against David, hero of the battles with the Philistines following David’s defeat of the giant, Goliath. Saul’s mental faculties are rapidly deteriorating, so his feelings regarding David fluctuate from moment to moment. Saul exiles David from his kingdom under threat of execution should he return. When David finally does return to Gilboa to humble himself before the deranged king and beg his forgiveness, Saul’s cousin, Abner, urges Saul to kill David, insisting that he was the cause of various misfortunes that had befallen Saul. Yet, in a dream, David’s loyalty to Saul is revealed, and the ambivalent relationship between Saul and David becomes more solid although no more stable. Ultimately, however, Saul’s kingdom is defiled by the king’s irrationality and violence. The Israelites are defeated in the battle against the Philistines in which Saul’s son Jonathan also dies. Saul, wholly defeated, falls on his sword, a suicide.
David, the play’s protagonist. Small of stature, he has defeated the mighty giant Goliath and afterward has won a victory over the Philistines. Saul honors and values him. He is the closest friend of Jonathan, Saul’s son, and eventually marries Saul’s daughter, Michal. Influenced by evil priests and by a conniving...
(The entire section is 598 words.)