Charles Strickland, an English stockbroker who seems commonplace to his friends until he suddenly leaves his wife and family and goes to Paris to study art. A friend sent by the wife to persuade him to return is told he has left his family permanently. Consumed by his desire to paint, he neglects his physical needs. During an illness, he is nursed by a friend’s wife, whom he makes his mistress and model. After her death, Strickland goes to Marseilles and, after further wandering, finally arrives in Tahiti. He marries Ata, a native girl who cares for his needs, and he paints constantly. Ill again, he is found to have leprosy and is isolated from all except Ata, who cares for him. He paints the walls of their bungalow until he is completely blind. Living in darkness, he remembers his last paintings, his masterpieces; however, he asks Ata to destroy the paintings on the walls after his death.
Amy Strickland, a commonplace English wife and mother. She cannot understand why her husband deserted her or his fame after his death.
Dirk Stroeve, Strickland’s artist friend in Paris. Something of a buffoon, he feels inferior to his English wife but loves her deeply. He insists she nurse Strickland in his illness. After they become lovers, Dirk leaves them in his studio and even gives his faithless wife money. When she dies, he returns to the studio...
(The entire section is 511 words.)