Baal (bahl), a poet, named for a Semitic-Phoenician god. He embodies the vitality and amorality of the fertility principle the god represented. The god’s association with storms and with the life-giving properties of water is reflected in the violence and fleetingness of Baal’s passions. In the moral sphere, Baal is exploitive, murderous, and prone to drunkenness. He is tied to no human or ethical obligation. In the natural sphere, he insists on enjoying the pleasures and richness of the world.
Ekart (EH-kahrt), a composer, a bear of a man who entices Baal to follow him into the forest and become his lover. Although it is his animalistic nature that attracts Baal, he is vulnerable to social ties, as evidenced by his sympathy for and desire to care for Sophie and his commitment to composing a Mass. His resistance to Baal’s domination inevitably provokes the rage in which Baal murders him.
Johannes Schmidt (yoh-HAHN-nehs shmiht), Baal’s friend, a young man bound by convention and propriety. He cannot consummate his desire for Johanna because he is afraid of her innocence and the social consequences. After her death, he fades into a drunken wraith of his former self.
Johanna Reiher (yoh-HAHN-nah
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