The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr

by Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffman

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 393

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffman (E.T.A. Hoffman) wrote The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr in the early 1800s. The story is satirically written as the autobiography of a cat.

Master Abraham Liscov: Master Abraham is a multi-talented man who finds himself the owner of Kater Murr. Among other specialties, he is a magician, and many of his adventures are associated with that fact. He works for Fürst Irenäus as his “Master of Pleasures.”

Kater Murr: Our titular character, Kater Murr, is a tomcat who belongs to Master Abraham. He is incredibly smart and able to complete tasks unusual for felines, such as writing and reading. In fact, he wrote his autobiography. He is very confident about both his life and the legacy he expects to leave behind. Sadly, he dies before he is able to complete all the volumes of his memoirs.

Fürst Irenäus: Once a prince, Irenäus has fallen to being merely a rich noble who continues to behave as a prince, treating his home of Sieghartsof as a court.

Johannes Kreisler: He serves as the composer for Irenäus’ court. Master Abraham taught Kreisler piano as a boy, an experience which stuck with him into adulthood. He is in love with Julia Benzon, but is forced to flee the court when he stabs a military officer in self-defense. Master Abraham keeps in touch with Kreisler and ultimately convinces him to return to court, where he sadly learns that Julia is betrothed.

Julia Benzon: She is the daughter of Rätin Benzon, beloved by Johannes Kreisler, and engaged to Prince Ignaz. She is mostly characterized in the novel by the ways in which she belongs to other people.

Rätin Benzon: She is Julia’s mother and was once a lover of Fürst Irenäus. She does not want Julia to marry Johannes Kreisler and acts in opposition, instead forcing her to marry Prince Ignaz.

Prince Ignaz: He is engaged to Julia Benzon and the brother of Princess Hedwiga. He is seen as emotionally immature.

Pricess Hedwiga: She is Fürst Irenäus’s daughter and has had a traumatic life. She was attacked by Leonard Ettlinger, a man who was hopelessly in love with her mother. Princess Hedwiga is uncomfortable with Kreisler because he reminds her of Ettlinger, though they eventually make peace.

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