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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 330

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Characters Discussed

Marco Polo

Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler. Told by a Chinese sea captain of the beauty of Golden Bells, he falls in love with his image of her. He imagines it his duty to convert the Chinese princess to Christianity. After he goes to China, the girl is his only convert. She and Marco fall in love and are happily married for three years; then Golden Bells dies. Marco stays with Kubla Khan for fourteen more years, but finally jealousy in the emperor’s court forces him to leave. He will not go, however, until Golden Bells appears in a vision and pleads with him not to remain and risk his life. He departs sadly from China, the land of his beloved.

Golden Bells

Golden Bells, the daughter of Kubla Khan, emperor of China. Told of Marco Polo’s plight on the wide desert, she asks the court magician to save the young man and bring him to her father’s court. She falls in love with Marco Polo, and the two live happily married for three years until her death. Although she becomes Marco Polo’s only convert to Christianity, she cannot believe what she is told of sin; she does not wish to be convinced that feminine beauty is sinful.


Nicholas and

Matthew Polo

Matthew Polo, Marco Polo’s father and uncle, respectively. They take young Marco with them to China, ostensibly as a Christian missionary sent by the pope.

Kubla Khan

Kubla Khan, the emperor of China. It is at his request that Marco Polo, as a Christian missionary, goes to China.

Li Po

Li Po, the court poet at the court of Kubla Khan. He is friendly to Golden Bells and to Marco Polo.


Sanang, the court magician of Kubla Khan. He effects the rescue of Marco Polo from the desert at Golden Bells’ request. Later, it is he who furnishes Marco Polo with a vision of the long-dead Golden Bells.




Critical Essays