Largo Desolato Characters
by Vaclav Havel

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Largo Desolato Characters

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:

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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author of the paper in question, then the whole thing will be considered null and void and all previous decisions rescinded –

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Professor Leopold Nettles

Professor Leopold Nettles, the protagonist, a philosopher and the writer of a book that contains a paragraph that the authorities deem subversive. He seems most concerned about his bodily functions, and he paces his apartment like a wild animal in a cage. He is unable to write and is handicapped by the constant pressure of impending imprisonment. Most of the time, he drinks rum and takes pills while waiting to be taken away. He claims to be a coward who lacks human integrity and doubts himself capable of love. He quotes from things he has said as if he is some other person, and he quotes what Bertram has told him he is. In short, he is not himself but only a hollow shell who remains, although he resents it, a prisoner to everyone else’s expectations of who he is. He is a symbol of truth and conviction to the outside world. Leopold is also the playwright’s literary analogy to himself.


Edward, a friend of Leopold who empathizes with Leopold’s situation and encourages him to go out or at least to keep the window open. Edward’s genuine interest, however, is in Suzana. He disengages himself from Leopold at Suzana’s entrance, speaking with her in the kitchen and taking her first to the movies and later to a dinner dance. Edward represents opportunists who sympathize but will not be personally inconvenienced.


Suzana, Leopold’s wife. She lives with Leopold and shops for him but is continually angry at him. She emphasizes the impracticality of Leopold’s existence: She assures him that he cannot eat an egg with a silver spoon and that he does not know how to wash a pot. In addition, her behavior suggests that she even has to sleep with another man. She does not want Leopold to recant and live a normal life, yet she wishes a normal life for herself: She goes to the movies and a dinner dance with Edward.

First Sidney

First Sidney and

Second Sidney

Second Sidney, two men who are virtually indistinguishable from each other, except that one smokes and the other drinks. They are proletarians who work in a paper mill; they represent the common and silent majority. Basically inarticulate, they think of Leopold as their spokesperson. They expect him to take their stand and supply him with plenty of paper to expedite their expectations. Each one,...

(The entire section is 1,044 words.)