Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 287
The main character in the play is the philosopher and political dissident Leopold Nettles. Having just written a book that criticizes the government, the government puts him under surveillance and seemingly forces him to stay at home in a paranoid and lonely state. He could go out, but as he states:
And be a nervous wreck the whole time, not knowing what's going on back here?
His friends Edward,Bertram, and Leopold's wife Suzanna are very worried about him, though there is some suggestion that it is not all sincere. Edward seems to be taking advantage of the situation to take Suzanna, who is constantly angry with Leopold, out on dates.
Bertram appears to the most genuinely worried of his friends, at one one point stating:
To your humor?... Your capacity for enthusiasm, for emotional involvement... I fear for you Leopold.
Though a victim of the government, Leopold is no victim in his personal relationships. He has his own lover, Lucy, who Suzanna seems to know well. On first seeing each other, they embrace and Lucy says:
We must have a chat - I've got so much to tell you.
Most probably Suzanna and Leopold have an open relationship.
Leopold, to his increasing annoyance, is hugely sought after. The First and Second Sidney, two inarticulate mill workers, regard Leopold as their spokesman and the student Marguerite worships him and his work.
The main antagonists are the aggressive government agents Chap One and Chap Two. They tell Leopold that if he
would sign, here and now, a short statement saying that you are not Professor Leopold Nettles, author of the paper in question, then the whole thing will be considered null and void and all previous decisions rescinded –