Mattia Pascal (maht-TEE-ah PAHS-kahl), a young Italian who undergoes the experience of living two different lives. Forced into an unhappy marriage with Romilda Pescatore, he flees on impulse and in Monte Carlo makes a sizable coup at the gaming tables. On his way home, he hears that the body of a dead man has been identified by his wife as his own. Thus he is free to become another man, and he decides that this man will be called Adriano Meis (ahd-REE-ah-noh mayees). A large portion of the novel concerns the failure of “Adriano” to achieve a sense of identity. As “Adriano,” Mattia is both a legal and psychological nonentity, but his anomalous position can be corrected only by assuming the hardly more real identity of the “late Mattia Pascal.” Returning to his village after staging a fake suicide, he learns that Romilda has married again. Not wishing to create new problems in this domestic situation, he settles down to a quiet, retiring life. Mattia’s chief quality as the teller of his own story is ironical detachment from both of his identities.
Batty Malagna (mah-LAHN-nyah), the cheating steward of Mattia’s widowed mother. He is chiefly responsible for thrusting Mattia into his unhappy marriage.
Signora Marianna Dondi-Pescatore
Signora Marianna Dondi-Pescatore (
(The entire section is 631 words.)