Heinrich Drendorf (HIN-rihkh DRAYN-dohrf), the narrator, a young man who has been reared in an ideal home, with kindly, wise, and loving parents and a devoted sister, Klotilde. A few years previously, Heinrich and Klotilde had each inherited a substantial sum of money. Now that he is an adult, Heinrich can, by being frugal, live off the income from his inheritance and devote himself to the study of his chosen field, science, without needing to work and support himself. While on one of his scientific journeys, Heinrich meets Risach, whose house, estate, and very existence radiate a profound sense of unity and harmony. He is already quite mature and discerning, but with Risach’s guidance, Heinrich gradually acquires a deeper knowledge and understanding of nature, literature, art, and, especially, humanity. Through Risach, Heinrich meets Natalie. Her beauty and his steadily deepening love for her inspire him further in his development, especially in his appreciation of art.
Baron Gustav von Risach
Baron Gustav von Risach (fon REE-zakh), an elderly gentleman farmer and former statesman, a self-made man of humble origins. He becomes Heinrich’s mentor. Still very vigorous, mentally and physically, Risach radiates a sense of stability, unity, harmony, serenity, and wisdom, uplifting all around him. Many years ago, while working as a private tutor, he fell in love with one of his students, Mathilde. He dutifully talked to her parents about marriage, but they requested, considering their daughter’s youth, that the wedding be postponed. Risach felt obliged to...
(The entire section is 701 words.)