Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Don Carlos

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....

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Crawford, Ronald L. “Masks of Deception in Schiller’s Don Carlos.” Germanic Notes 17, no. 3 (1986): 34-35. Crawford explores mask imagery in Don Carlos and considers the play’s importance in eighteenth century German drama.

Harrison, R. B. “Gott ist über mir: Ruler and Reformer in the Twofold Symmetry of Schiller’s Don Carlos.” The Modern Language Review 76, no. 3 (July, 1981): 598-611. A discussion of structure, symmetry, and characterization in Schiller’s Don Carlos. Presents an analysis of Schiller’s understanding and use of structure and form.

Miller, Ronald Duncan. Interpreting Schiller: A Study of Four Plays. Harrogate: Duchy Press, 1986. Provides a rigorous criticism and analysis of Don Carlos, as well as of Wilhelm Tell (1804), Jungfrau von Orleans (1801), and Wallensteins Tod (1799). Analyzes the plays individually but also compares and contrasts them with one another. Gives some consideration as well to Schiller’s life and times.

Sharpe, Lesley. Schiller and the Historical Character: Presentation and Interpretation in the Historiographical Works and in the Historical Dramas. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Approaches Schiller’s works both as histories and as dramas and focuses on defining his historical and philosophical thought. Considers the genre of historical drama and the appropriate approach to analyzing such presentations.

Vazsonyi, Nicholas. “Schiller’s Don Carlos: Historical Drama or Dramatized History?” New German Review: A Journal of Germanic Studies 7 (1991): 26-41. Discusses Johann Schiller’s Don Carlos as both drama and historical drama within the context of Germanic literature.