Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Arkenholz (AHR-kehn-hohlts), a student. The unshaven young man’s appearance is less an indication of slovenliness than of the fact that he is a man of action. The student was a hero in a disaster, a house collapse, that occurred just before the time of the play. Throughout, his vigorous, life-affirming qualities are in contrast to those of the mostly anemic, old, or quite literally dead characters who appear in this dream play. The “student” aspect of his character is at least as important. As the central character, his chief function is to observe the events around him, contemplate the various intrigues and disclosures of corruption, and thereby learn what life and death truly entail. At the end, he shares his conclusions with the audience.


Hummel (HUHM-mehl), an old man. Hummel has white hair and a white beard, wears glasses, and uses a wheelchair. Rather than the grandfatherly figure his appearance would suggest, Hummel is a sinister character who generally goes by “the old man” rather than his surname. “The old man” may recall “old Nick” and other sobriquets for the devil, an appropriate association because Hummel operates in a context of vampirism and the satanic. He seems to have had a hand in the lives (or deaths) of most of the characters in the play, and he entangled Arkenholz’s father in shady dealings in the past. He seems intent on ensnaring Arkenholz as well, at least early in the play. If...

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