Adam, the first character described in the story is also the story's protagonist, or main character. The narrator's initial description of him is external: "he was dark, a strong and sturdy figure with fine eyes and hands; he limped a little on one leg," but it soon becomes clear that Adam is also keenly intelligent and well-traveled. Not only is he familiar with Roman and Danish mythology, but he is well-read in philosophy: from Aristotle's Poetics, which provides the structural background to his discussion of tragedy, to then-modem philosophical tracts, most notably Thomas Paine's (1737-1809) "The Rights of Man" (1791). He has "traveled and lived out of Denmark, in Rome and Paris," and is appointed to the Court of King George, the same King George from whom the American colonies won their independence in the Revolutionary War.
It is Anne-Marie Pul who works herself to death in "Sorrow-Acre," and for whom the acre is subsequently named. Although she says nothing during the course of the story (with the exception of her reported conversation with Adam's uncle), her wordless presence in the story is meant to be an overwhelming demonstration of what Dinesen terms "an effort too sweet for words'': "to die for the one you loved."
Goske, Anne-Mane's son, is the catalyst for the story's action. Accused of setting a barn on fire, he was to be sent to the magistrate for trial; but Adam's uncle, meeting the boy's mother, Anne-Marie, by chance, agrees to free Goske if she can reap a large field in a day's time. Like Anne-Marie, Goske says little during the story, but he is present at the end of the day, and it is in his arms that his mother dies.
Like Adam's uncle, Sophie-Magdalena's full name is never given, and her character remains somewhat incomplete as well. Originally the intended bride of Adam's young, sickly...
(The entire section is 475 words.)