Gilda, who is about thirty years old. She is Ernest’s wife and the mistress of both Otto and Leo. Gilda is attracted to Otto, an unsuccessful painter, and lives with him in his Paris studio, hoping to further his career. Although Gilda does not wish to marry, claiming that marriage provides nothing she wants, she is humiliated by the way in which feminine impulses sway her life. When Leo returns from New York as a successful playwright, Gilda deserts Otto and goes to live with Leo in London. After eighteen months with Leo, however, Gilda is still unhappy. She distrusts (and perhaps envies) Leo’s continuing success and dislikes the social life it entails. She also thinks that success has affected the quality of Leo’s work, a criticism he resents. While he is away, Otto reappears, and Gilda sleeps with him. After leaving Otto and marrying Ernest, Gilda not only has tired of fulfilling her desire for artistic success via men but also has come to believe that she deluded herself into thinking she contributed anything to her lovers’ creative lives.
Leo, a playwright, Gilda’s lover and a friend of Otto and Ernest. Leo is offended that Gilda first chose Otto, and his taking Gilda away has an element of revenge in it. He enjoys his success and refuses to believe that starving in a garret is a prerequisite for producing effective art. When Gilda leaves, however, he is shattered and turns to Otto. They...
(The entire section is 479 words.)