The Dwarf, the narrator. He is twenty-six-inches tall but of good physical proportions, save for a slightly oversized head, and of exceptional strength. His wrinkled and beardless face, bristly red hair, and broad but low brow make him look older but less diabolical than he is. He is addressed once as Piccolino, but this instance may be a descriptive mode of address (it means “little fellow” in Italian) and not his actual name. His service to the Prince consists largely in doing the Prince’s dirty work. His penchant is for treachery, violence, bloodshed, and evil. He is incapable of love, and he never laughs. In his admiration of the Prince’s amoral pursuit of power, he personifies Machiavellianism. His own brutality is manifest in his killing of two dwarfs; beheading a kitten; poisoning a rival of the Prince, along with the rival’s personal attendants and a courtier who loves the Princess; and causing the beheading of the young man loved by the Prince’s daughter, who then, grief-stricken, drowns herself.
The Prince, the ruler of an Italian state. He is modeled on Cesare Borgia, duke of Romagna and the exemplar for Niccolo Machiavelli in his book The Prince (1560). He is unscrupulous in his quest for power. He dispenses with the services of the Dwarf after the deaths of his daughter and wife. When the Dwarf refuses under torture to disclose the nature of his consultations with the Prince’s wife, the Prince has him chained in a dungeon; the Dwarf is confident, however, that the Prince cannot be without his Dwarf for long.
(The entire section is 666 words.)