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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 175

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"The Forge" has two characters.

The first is the speaker. He looks into a dark room and describes seeing a blacksmith's shop and a blacksmith at work. What we learn about the speaker is that he is a thoughtful person who takes the time to stop, observe, and think about the work of the blacksmith. He could rush by, as the traffic does, but instead he investigates and records what he sees. He does not scorn the blacksmith but treats him, his work, and his shop with respect. He conveys that respect through his words.

The second character is the blacksmith. He is both a contemplative and an active man. He has specific traits, having "hairs in his nose," but primarily, he is a universal figure. He stops to contemplate the past world of "hoofs"—the world where the blacksmith was once an esteemed, central player—and then returns to his work at the forge, hammering objects out of molten metal. He is an ideal, both artist and holy man, creating at his anvil "altar."