Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Arthur, a neat and handsome twenty-five-year-old, dressed until the last act in a freshly pressed suit, white shirt, and tie. He is a counterrevolutionary idealist who rebels against what he considers his family’s (and society’s) liberalism, ethical relativism, slack permissiveness, disorder, and all-around anarchic individualism. Disgusted by what he regards as his family’s immoral refusal to follow firm rules of conduct, he seeks to map out an orderly and respectable way of life, regulated by old-fashioned ceremonies and submission to absolute principles. He persuades his cousin Ala to marry him rather than simply sleep with him and forces his family, by the beginning of act 3, into ill-fitting, outdated, moth-eaten formal clothes for the wedding. He comes to realize that the old order cannot be reestablished at the point of his pistol. When Ala nonchalantly informs him that she had sex with the servant, Eddie, the morning before the marriage vows are to be exchanged, he breaks into tears and becomes easy prey for Eddie, who kills him.


Eddie, the family’s muscular, sensual, anti-intellectual servant. He is crude, unshaven, and slovenly, and he sports a small, square mustache. His card playing with Eugene and Eugenia annoys Arthur, but it is his affair with Eleanor that deeply outrages Arthur, who urgently attempts to have his father shoot his mother’s lover. When a disillusioned, drunken Arthur raves about the glory of omnipotent power in the final act, Eddie takes him at his word and tries to murder Arthur’s uncle Eugene. Ala’s declaration of her...

(The entire section is 666 words.)