Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dr. Henry Foustka

Dr. Henry Foustka, a scientist employed by the scientific research facility called the Institute. He is secretly exploring the occult, burning candles and reciting incantations alone in his study. Foustka, a Faust figure exploring the possibility that science itself is the worship of the devil, reluctantly employs the services of Fistula, which are essentially the argument by which Foustka realizes his own beliefs. He is damned by Fistula’s accusations and disappears in clouds of smoke.


Fistula, an invalid in retirement, sinister and philosophical, who is prone to visiting Foustka unannounced. The Mephistopheles character, he second-guesses Foustka, causing him to make admissions that he does not actually believe, then betrays him to the Director, for whom he has been acting as agent provocateur.

The Director

The Director, the head of the Institute, who is in constant need of support staff and yes men. He is strangely attracted to Foustka until his offer of intimate friendship is rebuffed. Both in his position as the head of the Institute and in his duplicity toward Foustka, he is the embodiment of evil, despite his superficial concern for others and his quiet, self-deprecating attitude.


Vilma, a scientist, Foustka’s lover, addicted to elaborately staged role-playing scenarios in her love life and accused by Foustka of...

(The entire section is 454 words.)