Edgar, a captain of the coast artillery. He and his family live in a fortress on a removed island, physically and emotionally isolated from others. His marital tyranny makes his wife a prisoner and her life miserable. He continually battles for dominance, not only with her but also with everyone, because he is contemptuous of all others. Convinced of his own superiority, he refuses to buy food, pay his bills, or hire servants and pay them. Subsequent attacks of a severe illness convince him that there is life after death. Malicious by nature, he previously instigated Curt’s divorce, which resulted in the loss of Curt’s money and family, yet he clings to Curt during the most severe of his attacks. He threatens to divorce his wife to keep her under his power but resigns himself to being with her after learning that he has not long to live.
Alice, his wife, a former actress. She wants freedom from her domineering husband, who constantly humiliates her. Without servants or money, she does the best she can. Kept in isolation from even her children, Alice has learned secretly to communicate by telegraph to keep in contact with the world. Praying that her husband’s illness will be fatal, she allows him to see her making romantic advances toward her cousin, Curt. After he threatens her with divorce, she enlists Curt to help her discredit her husband with charges of embezzlement. After Curt rebuffs her...
(The entire section is 404 words.)