Elective Affinities

by Johann Goethe
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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 234

Edward

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Edward (EHD-vahrd), a wealthy nobleman. He lives an idyllic life on his estate with his wife, Charlotte, until the arrival of Ottilie, for whom he develops a passion which, in his immaturity, he does little to control. He and Ottilie are finally united in death.

Charlotte

Charlotte (shahr-LOHT-teh), Edward’s wife. She lives happily with her husband until his friend, the Captain, comes to live with them, and she and the Captain fall in love. A mature person, she controls her passion and resolves to adhere to the moral code. She is united with the Captain after Edward’s death.

Ottilie

Ottilie (oh-TEE-lee-eh), Charlotte’s young protégée, who comes to live on Edward’s estate. She develops for her host a passion that he encourages. Finally, in despair over her situation, she dies of self-imposed starvation. She is soon followed by Edward, and the lovers are united in death.

The Captain

The Captain, Edward’s friend. Living on Edward’s estate, he and Charlotte fall in love. Controlling his emotions, he plays an honorable role and is finally united with Charlotte after Edward’s death.

Otto

Otto, the infant son of Edward and Charlotte.

Herr Mittler

Herr Mittler, a self-appointed marriage counselor who tries and fails to bring about a reconciliation between Edward and Charlotte.

Luciana

Luciana (lew-chee-AH-nah), Charlotte’s daughter by a former marriage.

Nanny

Nanny, Ottilie’s young friend.

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