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The Harlequin
The Harlequin, whose real name is Everett C. Marm, is a ‘‘man who had no sense of time.’’ Dressed in motley fashion, the Harlequin disrupts the daily activities of the society in which he lives through practical jokes (such as showering shift workers with jelly beans) and his general lack of attention to time. Physically, the Harlequin is a small man, ‘‘elfin and dimpled and bright-eyed.’’ He becomes a sort of hero to the lower classes, the people who through their daily work allow the entire system to run. Because of this, he comes to the attention of the Ticktockman who sends out his minions to find out who the Harlequin really is.

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As a man, Everett C. Marm is not ‘‘much to begin with,’’ but as the Harlequin, he is a danger to a society that depends on punctuality and smooth running of its machinery. His general nonconformity and his anarchistic actions threaten the culture. Indeed, he incites crowds of people to ‘‘saunter a while,’’ to ‘‘enjoy the sunshine.’’ When he tells the crowd, ‘‘down with the Ticktockman,’’ he is essentially committing treason. Consequently, the Harlequin is captured, apparently brainwashed, and made to appear on television to recant.

Because ‘‘‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman’’ is a kind of allegory, none of the characters are developed or rounded, nor are they intended to be. Although the Harlequin is the main character, he represents a type of character rather than a realistic individual. His reply to the Ticktockman, ‘‘Get stuffed!’’ is indicative of his status as the trickster/rebel, the character who refuses to cooperate with authority in spite of the danger to himself.

Everett C. Marm
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Pretty Alice
Pretty Alice is Everett C. Marm’s girlfriend or wife. She is someone who ‘‘wants to belong,’’ someone who finds living in the conformity and regularity of the society both comfortable and desirable. She is disgusted with Marm’s role as the Harlequin, and she is out of patience with Marm’s habitual lateness. Ultimately, she betrays...

(The entire section contains 534 words.)

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Critical Essays