Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Felix Theodor Schaad

Felix Theodor Schaad (FAY-lihks TAY-oh-dohr shat), a Zurich physician. Schaad is a fifty-four-year-old internist who is accused of brutally murdering his sixth wife, Rosalinde Zogg, by suffocating her and strangling her with his tie. The novel begins three weeks after Schaad has been acquitted of the crime and consists of his reliving the hearing. At the time of the murder, he is divorced from Zogg and is married to his seventh wife, Jutta. The question of whether Schaad is pathologically jealous and capable of violence toward women is continually raised by the prosecuting attorney, but answers are inconclusive. Schaad’s philanthropy and public service are pointed out. The doctor emerges as a complex and tormented individual who is perplexed by male-female relationships, particularly in their modern incarnations. After the acquittal, Schaad returns to his medical practice but is unsuccessful in resuming his former life. He tries drink, travel, and billiards, and finally returns to the town where he was born, confesses to the murder, and drives his car into a tree. He recovers from the accident and is told that his confession is false because the murderer, a Greek student named Nikos Grammaticos, has been found and taken into custody.

Rosalinde Zogg

Rosalinde Zogg (ROH-zah-lihn-deh tsohk), Schaad’s sixth wife. After her divorce from Schaad, Rosalinde is supporting herself as a call girl, receiving visitors in her elegant and tastefully furnished apartment. Books scattered about the apartment suggest that she may be intellectually inclined. Schaad believes her to lack self-confidence, because she did not fulfill the expectations her father, a major, had for her. She was raped by an air force captain, and her first marriage occurred when she was nineteen years old.


(The entire section is 797 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

A master of understatement and suspense, Max Frisch tantalizes the reader by systematically withholding information about his cast of characters, providing glimpses into the working of their minds but never the evidence necessary to answer the central questions of the reader’s imagination. Using few transitions or introductions, Frisch has witnesses appear, respond, or refuse to respond to the questions of the unnamed prosecuting attorney and then dematerialize. From the testimonies of these witnesses, many details can be surmised about the hero and his many wives. Yet, consistently the most pressing questions cannot be answered from the sketchy and often irrelevant information presented. For example, while the testimony reveals the names and occupations of Schaad’s ex-wives, and it suggests that each of his successive marriages was shorter and more chaotic than the last, the reader never learns why his marriages failed, why he married so many times, why he left his wives, or why they left him.

The fundamental questions of the work—Did Schaad commit the crime? If so, what was his motive? If not, who was the true murderer?—also are not answered in the interrogative scenes. Several of his ex-wives testify that Schaad was pathologically jealous. Evidence gathered from the doctor’s private notebooks also suggest that Schaad was insanely protective of his wives. “I watch her peeling asparagus,” Schaad confides, “We talk about nothing in...

(The entire section is 595 words.)