Don Carlos, the sensitive, twenty-three-year-old heir to the throne of Spain. His life is a constant battle with his father, with neither holding any love for the other. Resenting his father’s second marriage—Don Carlos had been in love with the bride, Elizabeth de Valois—the prince wants to leave Madrid. He hopes to free himself of the constant reminder of his continuing love for his father’s wife and, as heir to the throne, establish his stature as an emissary to Flanders. Despite the unstinting efforts of his close friend for Don Carlos’ happiness, Carlos’ implied lot is commitment by his father to a monastery.
Philip the Second
Philip the Second, the king of Spain. An austere monarch lacking in compassion, he knows no love either as the loved or as the lover. In only one instance is he forgiving, toward an admiral who lost a fleet in rough seas. The king’s goodness, much acclaimed by his court, is motivated more by self-gain than by altruism. Jealous and insecure, Philip is easily duped by any talebearer. He blames the church for not protecting him by warning him of forces working against him. He is rebuked, in turn, for not asking the help of the church. Philip’s character is quickly reflected in the question put to him: “When you whine for sympathy, is not the world your equal?”
The marquis de Posa
The marquis de Posa, the friend of Don Carlos, who calls him Roderigo. Posa swore lifelong allegiance to Don Carlos for his defense of Posa in a childhood mishap. A hero in every sense of the word, Posa shows military prowess, is beneficent in his role as confidant to the major personages, is studious, and is forthright with and unmoved by those who seek to injure their fellow men. His marked influence reaches its height when he secures Philip’s approval to move about the court at will. This permission follows Posa’s fervent, unselfish plea to Philip for better conditions for humankind....
(The entire section is 818 words.)