Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 526
Lilly Czepanek (TSHAY -pah-nehk), an attractive and capable young woman. Deserted at the age of fourteen by her music-master father, she is left entirely alone after the subsequent insanity of her mother. She makes an unhappy marriage, takes a lover, and is divorced by her...
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- Critical Essays
Lilly Czepanek (TSHAY-pah-nehk), an attractive and capable young woman. Deserted at the age of fourteen by her music-master father, she is left entirely alone after the subsequent insanity of her mother. She makes an unhappy marriage, takes a lover, and is divorced by her husband. Gradually, she sinks deeper into vice. Falling truly in love, she lies frantically about her past in her desire to keep the young man’s friendship. The projected marriage is broken off by his uncle, and Lilly, in despair, unsuccessfully attempts suicide. She does, however, throw into the river a musical composition by her father, “The Song of Songs,” which she has kept for years as a symbol of the fine and good in her life. At last, she agrees to marry a man she does not love but with whom she has lived in the past.
Fritz Redlich (REHD-lihkh), a high-minded young student whom Lilly admires before her first marriage. Misunderstanding her overtures of friendship, he spurns her. Years after her divorce, she finds him destitute, looks after him, and secures a job for him. She wants to devote her life to his regeneration, but he still misunderstands her and again spurns her friendship.
Walter von Prell
Walter von Prell, a young lieutenant interested in Lilly. After her marriage, he becomes her lover.
Colonel von Mertzbach
Colonel von Mertzbach (MEHRTS-bahkh), Lilly’s elderly, well-to-do, and jealous first husband. She marries him to gain security; in turn, she is to him little more than his chattel. Discovering her infidelity, he divorces her.
Richard Dehnicke (DAY-nih-keh), a friend of von Prell living in Berlin. Lilly goes there after her divorce and becomes Dehnicke’s mistress. He is much under the influence of his mother, who wants him to marry an heiress. At last, his mother, like Lilly, resigns herself to the inevitable, and his marriage to Lilly takes place.
Kellermann, a glass painter to whom Lilly goes to learn the art. She resists his advances until Dehnicke’s temporary desertion at his mother’s insistence. When Dehnicke returns, she resumes her old way of life with him.
Konrad Rennschmidt, a young art history student with whom Lilly finds true happiness. When the lies she has told him are exposed to his uncle, she is forced to give him up.
Miss von Schwertfeger
Miss von Schwertfeger (SHVEHRT-fay-gehr), Colonel von Mertzbach’s housekeeper. Because she hates the colonel, who for years forced her to be a party to mad orgies in his castle, she keeps secret Lilly’s infidelity when the colonel almost discovers the affair with von Prell.
Mrs. Czepanek, Lilly’s mother, who loses her mind and, after attacking Lilly with a bread knife, is committed to an asylum.
Mrs. Asmussen (AHS-mews-sehn), in whose circulating library Lilly works as a clerk after her mother is committed and until her first marriage.
Lona Asmussen and
Mi Asmussen (mee), the worldly daughters of Lilly’s employer. They coach her in the ways of catching men and are then envious of her success in attracting them.