The Prostitute, Leocadia, who begins and ends the sexual roundelay. She loses what little dignity she has left when she gives herself, free of charge, to the uncaring Soldier on the banks of Vienna’s Danube Canal. In a later sexual encounter with the Count, she is more self-assured, more hopeful, and more “professional.”
The Soldier, Franz, an unfeeling, swaggering macho type. He treats his second sex partner, the Maid, no better than his earlier one as he takes her on a meadow at an amusement park.
The Maid, who surrenders herself to the Soldier. She finds that yielding to the blasé young gentleman of the family she works for produces no change in the master-servant relationship.
The Young Gentleman
The Young Gentleman, Alfred, who turns out to be quite an aesthete as he prepares the seduction of a young married woman. He finds himself temporarily impotent, possibly because she is “respectable” and his socioeconomic equal.
The Young Wife
The Young Wife, Emma, the quintessential unfulfilled woman. Yearning for a son, in addition to her daughter, she wistfully remembers her wedding night in Venice as she listens to her husband smugly moralizing about the unhappiness of unfaithful wives.
The Husband, Karl, a domineering philistine who...
(The entire section is 431 words.)