Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Noah, the patriarch, past the age of seventy when the play begins. He later becomes a stronger, younger man of fifty with “eagle bright” eyes and reddish hair, then returns to an old man at the end of the play. He is very authoritarian and acts as the ruler of his family, but he is obedient to God. He demands the obedience of his sons and banters with his wife. He bitterly disagrees with his son Japheth, who wants to do things in his own way. To obey God, Noah is willing for people to think that he is crazy and to mock and ridicule him for building an ark and saying that God will destroy Earth with a flood. He is made younger by God so that he has the strength to do what must be done. His chief weakness is his unbending, impatient authoritarianism. When he becomes old Noah again at the end of the play, these attitudes have vanished, replaced by gentle humor, friendliness, and open affection. Having lost Esther, the love of his life, he grants her dying wish to marry Japheth to Rachel and Ham to Goldie, establishing new laws for a new world.


Esther, Noah’s wife, a practical Jewish mother. She bosses her daughters-in-law, chides her sons for disrespect toward their father, chides Noah with loving banter about things with which she disagrees, breaks up arguments within the family, and maintains her own sanity by keeping occupied with daily chores. She mistrusts Leah but loves the delicate, hesitant Rachel, lamenting Rachel’s unhappy marriage to Ham and encouraging her to have self-confidence. She takes the children’s side against Noah when Ham wants to marry Goldie and Japheth wants to marry Rachel, but she reminds them that she loves Noah. She feels inadequate when Noah becomes younger and she remains old, but she carries on. She dies just before the ark lands and tells Noah to marry the children as they wish “for the sake of happiness in the world.”


Japheth, the youngest son of Noah, in his early twenties, proud, private, thinking, slow, and shy. Noah subconsciously identifies with him. Japheth loves and respects his father...

(The entire section is 874 words.)