The Coast of Utopia: Voyage Characters

Tom Stoppard

List of Characters

Alexander Bakunin—a slightly pompous aristocrat who enjoys his large family.

Varvara Bakunin—his no-nonsense wife.

Liubov Bakunin—their daughter.

Varenka Bakunin—their daughter.

Tatiana Bakunin—their daughter.

Alexandra Bakunin—their daughter.

Miss Chamberlain—an English governess.

Baron Renne—a cavalry officer who is courting Liubov.

Semyon—a senior household servant.

Nicholas Stankevich—a young philosopher and Michael’s friend.

Michael Bakunin—the Bakunins’ son and the play’s main character.

Vissarion Belinsky—a literary critic.

Ivan Turgenev—a would-be writer.

Alexander Herzen—a would-be revolutionary.

Nicholas Polevoy—editor of the Telegraph.

Mrs. Beyer—Natalie’s mother.

Natalie Beyer—Mrs. Beyer’s daughter.

Peter Chaadaev—a philosopher.

Stepan Shevyrev—editor of the Moscow Observer.

Katya—Belinsky’s mistress.

Pushkin—the famous Russian poet.

Dyakov—a cavalry officer who eventually marries Varvara.

A ginger cat—an ominous figure.

Character Analysis

In many ways, Michael Bakunin is a product of his privileged environment. He is the only son in a family with four daughters who all dote on him, and he is ultimately a spoiled brat. His family loves to talk about Pushkin and various other poets and philosophers, and Michael becomes caught up in spending his life finding deeper meaning. While his parents and sisters enjoy debating ideas and then going on with what is expected of their class, Michael shuns his “duties” as an aristocrat and instead spends his time surrounding himself with other like-minded young men. He is constantly the brunt of his father’s anger and disappointment for not finishing his military service, for being a gadabout, and for not taking a safe job. Several times, Michael finds a philosophy that he is passionate about and believes in, but he seems to just as quickly shun it completely in favor of another ideal. His relationships with women are rocky as well. He has some sort of romance with Natalie Beyer, but his sisters disapprove, and Natalie is frustrated that he relies on them so much to tell him how to live his life. For someone with so many ideals, he seems hardly able to make up his own mind on anything in his life. He also has a slightly unnatural attachment to his sister Tatiana. They are very close, and whenever she seems to be involved with someone romantically, he admits to being terribly jealous. In many ways, Michael is being treated and behaving as if he is still a little boy.

Vissarion Belinsky is presented as a kind of counterpoint to Michael. Belinsky is equally impassioned about his beliefs, but he lacks the blind naiveté that characterizes Michael. Belinsky is also incredibly awkward socially, completely ill-equipped to deal with anything from the simplest social niceties to overt romantic overtures. He is almost completely oblivious to Tatiana’s interest in him as well as the impact that interest has on...

(The entire section is 630 words.)