Because Vesper relates the events from his point of view, he emerges as the central character, even if he intends for Holberg to do so. On himself, Vesper seems unduly harsh, because in all of his relationships he suggests that he lacks sincerity and depth. To cover up these defects, he assumes a flippant air, refusing to take anything seriously. He denigrates his role as acolyte to the great man, seeming at times to wallow happily in the humiliating situation he has created. From behind the facade Vesper presents, though, another Vesper materializes, one who proves capable, witty, sympathetic and kind, and in his final action, strong.
As Holberg’s fame grows, even as his genius develops to its fullest, he degenerates as a human being. Or so Vesper portrays him. At the beginning of their relationship, Holberg—in spite of his blindness and poverty—had about him a contagious charm, a lack of self-concern, a naturalness that enraptured all those who met him. At the end of the novel, then, does Vesper do Holberg justice? Or is he jealous of the master, therefore wanting to belittle him? Is he disappointed in the man to whom he had given himself as an acolyte? Those questions Vesper does not answer, could not even if he wanted to do so.
A first-person narrator always affects characterization, because the reader views everyone through the eyes of the narrator, who may or may not be reliable. Vesper gives all the others who appear in the...
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