Last Updated on September 12, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 322
The Bound Man
The main character, of course, is the bound man himself. When he awakens from unconsciousness at the beginning of the story, he finds that he has been beaten, robbed, and tied up with ropes. It takes him some time to come to and to have enough energy to get up and try to move, but when he does, he begins to teach himself to work within his bonds rather than against them. Initially, when he finds an empty wine bottle, he determines to break it and use the jagged glass to cut through the ropes, but he is stopped by an animal tamer who happens to see him and becomes charmed by his movements. The bound man is then offered a job with the circus, and he becomes quite famous for the way he has learned to move and jump, never taking off his ropes (even after his performances are over for the night). By learning to work within his limits, he achieves a feeling of freedom and a satisfaction with his life.
The Circus Proprietor
The circus proprietor makes a good deal of money from the customers who pay to see the bound man's act. Although he initially tells the bound man that the latter can remove his ropes at night, he eventually becomes quite protective of the bound man and anything that might interfere with his performance. He fires anyone who tries to cut the ropes for any reason. He seems somewhat exploitative, but he also seems to respect the bound man's decisions.
The Circus Proprietor's Wife
The circus proprietor's wife develops a relationship with the bound man, and they often talk alone in the mornings. It is she who, despite knowing the bound man's positive feelings about the ropes, cuts them off the bound man before he has a chance to stop her. She seems to want to free him but does not realize that he already feels free.