Leon Tolchinsky is a bright and industrious schoolteacher eager to make a difference. He comes to the town of Kulyenchikov to replace the previous schoolmaster. Leon’s eagerness does not prevent him from being impatient with the limitations of Kulyenchikov’s residents. Throughout the play, Leon is obviously frustrated by their inability to understand simple ideas. When the Zubritskys attempt to answer his question about the meaning of life in Act 1, they incongruously respond, “Twelve.” Long after the conversation ends, Leon leaves the house and can be heard screaming “TWELVE?” from the street. In this way, Leon is somewhat inflexible in his teaching methods: he explains concepts and expects the students to master them immediately.
To counter this, Leon’s other key characteristic is his determination. His focused nature may make him impatient, but it also drives him to save the town from the curse. Even when everything is against him, he is determined to educate the people. In his opening and closing monologues, Leon reveals his commitment to learning. Educating people is his passion, and his passion ultimately saves the town.
Leon also has a very open heart that gives him a certain degree of naïveté. In some ways, his narrow-minded way of instruction stems from this. He just cannot believe in a world where people cannot learn. His open heart is also what makes him fall for Sophia. Indeed, he falls in love with her almost instantly when they meet at Dr. Zubritsky’s house. His love for Sophia provides further motivation to save the town. When he succeeds, he saves his last words for Sophia. He admits that she has a kind of intelligence he lacks and that he is her student in many ways.
Snetsky is a shepherd who does not know his own first name. As a result, he refers to himself as Something Something Snetsky.
The magistrate is an elderly official in the town of Kulyenchikov. He is among the first to meet...
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