The Mysterious Stranger, A Romance

by Mark Twain

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Characters Discussed

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Theodor Fischer

Theodor Fischer, the narrator, a young boy who is the son of the church organist. Together with Nikolaus Bauman and Seppi Wohlmeyer, he meets and interacts with Satan. His observations and opinions pervade the entire work. He is sympathetic to other people and open to, yet questioning of, popular and new attitudes and opinions. Only he is privy to all of Satan’s acts and philosophical statements.

Nikolaus Bauman

Nikolaus Bauman, another young boy, the son of the principal judge. He, too, is involved with Satan. He drowns trying to save little Elsa, his future having been altered by Satan.

Seppi Wohlmeyer

Seppi Wohlmeyer, a third young boy, the son of the keeper of the principal inn. With Nikolaus, he is close friends with Theodor.


Satan, who sometimes goes by the name of Philip Traum, the nephew of the fallen angel of the same name. He claims to be an angel sixteen thousand years old. He can appear or vanish at will. He changes the future of other characters, causing their deaths or insanity. He claims to be benevolent, though his actions at times seem the opposite. He idealizes animals and takes a dim view of humankind. At the end, he is completely nihilistic, denying the existence of heaven, hell, the afterlife, and even humankind itself. Using the name Philip Traum, he appears as a handsome young man, a mysterious stranger, to whom people are drawn. He provides money and sustenance to Father Peter and others through indirect, ingenious means. On one occasion, he enters the body of the Astrologer. The misanthropic philosophy of the work is embodied in his attitudes.

Father Adolph

Father Adolph, a priest. He is vindictive, causing the defrocking of Father Peter and, later, his imprisonment. He is of questionable merit as a clergyman, zealous but often with impure motives. He is vindictive toward those accused of witchcraft but friendly toward the evil Astrologer.

Father Peter

Father Peter, a loving, dedicated priest. He teaches the goodness of God and looks for the best in humans. He is accused of heresy by Father Adolph; loss of priesthood and poverty result. Enriched by Satan, he is accused of witchcraft. Satan alters his future by making him serenely insane for an extended lifetime.

The Astrologer

The Astrologer, a friend of Father Adolph but a foe of Father Peter and often his accuser. Embodied by Satan, he does wonders, showing witchcraft to be less than evident.


Margret, Father Peter’s niece, an attractive young woman. She suffers loss of fortune and popularity in the misfortunes of Father Peter, but she is patient and loving toward her beleaguered uncle.

Wilhelm Meidling

Wilhelm Meidling, an inept lawyer. He is faithful in his attentions to Margret, even when others have shunned her. He defends Father Peter against the charge of theft brought by the Astrologer by showing that Father Peter’s money was minted too recently to have belonged to the Astrologer; however, it is Satan, possessing Wilhelm’s body, who brings about the acquittal.


Ursula, the servant to Father Peter and his household. She meets Satan and is given a magical, money-producing cat. She eventually hires a manservant to help her with the work.


Agnes, the magical cat. Her tongue-whiskers grow the opposite direction from normal as proof that she is not ordinary. She produces money for Father Peter’s household.

Solomon Isaacs

Solomon Isaacs, a Jewish moneylender. He is ready to foreclose on Father Peter’s house. After the accusations of theft against Father Peter, he holds the disputed money until resolution of the issue.


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