Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Wolf Larsen, captain of the Ghost, a ship used in hunting seals. Larsen is a fierce, satanic figure, driving his men relentlessly and beating them brutally when they disobey him. He calls himself a materialist who does not believe in morality, ethics, or religion. He is contemptuous of anyone who believes in a spiritual dimension to existence. Although he is a monster, he is also courageous and curiously intellectual. He loves debating his views of life and earns the admiration of the novel’s narrator, Humphrey Van Weyden, who learns from Larsen a code of self-reliance and honest self-scrutiny.
Humphrey Van Weyden
Humphrey Van Weyden, a writer and gentleman rescued from the sea by Larsen. At first, Van Weyden is revolted at Larsen’s cruelty and physical violence, and he refuses to believe that such an intelligent man could really believe completely in the doctrine of “might makes right,” no matter what the circumstances. Van Weyden confesses that he is soft and unused to physical labor and that he was called a sissy at school. He gradually comes to admire Larsen’s independence and lack of sentimentality. He cannot accept Larsen’s philosophy, but he is grateful for the opportunity to test himself against the elements and to discover reserves of energy and pluck that he did not realize he possessed.
Thomas Mugridge, the ship’s cook, who is...
(The entire section is 564 words.)
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