Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 634
Jurgen, a middle-aged pawnbroker who, searching for his lost wife, returns twenty years to the days of his youth, in which he thought himself a very clever fellow. After a year, during which he becomes a duke, a prince, a king, an emperor, and a pope, he asks to be returned to plain, practical, and moderately peaceful middle age with his wife, who is rather well suited, after all, to a man such as himself.
Adelais (Dame Lisa)
Adelais (Dame Lisa), his shrewish wife who, contemptuous of poetry and romance, converted a poet into a pawnbroker.
Dorothy la Désirée
Dorothy la Désirée, his childhood sweetheart, second sister of Count Emmerick. She is Jurgen’s Heart’s Desire who married Heitman Michael. She also appears for a time to be Helen of Troy.
Mother Sereda (also Aesred and Res Dea), an old woman, Jurgen’s godmother, who takes the color out of things and who controls Wednesdays. Her shadow follows Jurgen everywhere after she has restored to him a year of his youth, following which time she makes him the middle-aged man he is.
Queen Guenevere, with whom Jurgen has a love affair before her marriage to King Arthur. She does not recognize him after he has returned to middle age.
King Gogyrvan Gawr
King Gogyrvan Gawr, her father, to whom Jurgen returns her after murdering King Thragnar.
Dame Anaïtis (The Lady of the Lake and Queen of Cocaigne), a myth woman of lunar legend who instructs Jurgen in many varieties of pleasure and to whom he becomes for a while prince consort. Like Guenevere, she does not recognize the older Jurgen.
Chloris, a plump Hamadryad to whom Jurgen is husband for a time.
Queen Helen of Troy
Queen Helen of Troy, the legendary Swan’s daughter, Jurgen’s (and man’s) vision of supreme beauty.
Queen Dolores, Philistine ruler to whom Jurgen explains Praxagorean mathematics.
Grandfather Satan, Hell’s horned and bushytailed magistrate, with whom Jurgen discusses Hell as a democracy.
St. Peter, Heaven’s gatekeeper, with whom Jurgen talks over pseudo-Christian beliefs.
Koshchei the Deathless (also The Prince of Darkness)
Koshchei the Deathless (also The Prince of Darkness), the maker of things as they are. Because Jurgen once spoke a good word for him, Koshchei disencumbers him of Dame Lisa; after a year, he restores her at Jurgen’s request.
Nessus, a centaur who gives Jurgen a glittering shirt and takes him to the garden between dawn and sunrise.
Azra, Jurgen’s mother, loved briefly by Coth.
Coth, Jurgen’s father, whom he meets and quarrels with in Hell.
Heitman Michael, the man who married Dorothy, over whom he and Jurgen duel with swords.
Felise de Puysange
Felise de Puysange, one of many women loved by Jurgen, who fathered her son.
King Thragnar, the Troll King who captured and imprisoned Guenevere. He disguises himself as Dame Lisa, and Jurgen slays him.
Dame Yolande, Jurgen kills a giant for her and with her he spends a most agreeable night after he blows out the candles.
King Smoit and Queen Sylvia Tereu, ghosts of King Gogyrvan’s grandfather and his ninth wife. According to King Smoit’s story, he is also secretly the father of Coth and therefore Jurgen’s grandfather.
Merlin Ambrosius, a sorcerer sent with Dame Anaïtis to fetch Guenevere for King Arthur.
Florimel, a seductive and humorously talkative vampire whom Jurgen meets and marries in Hell.
Steinvor, Jurgen’s grandmother, an old woman with illusions about her children and grandchildren.
The God of Steinvor
The God of Steinvor, created by Koshchei to satisfy the old woman.