Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 744
Julian, a modest, shy, and benevolent Roman Catholic lay brother and personal secretary to the Cardinal. In his benevolence and his desire to serve, he is a victim of the Roman Catholic Church’s avarice. After having become disillusioned with other people’s images and uses of God, he loses his faith and commits himself to a mental institution for six years. By the beginning of the play, Julian is Brother Julian, the first lay secretary to a cardinal in church history. He is sent by the Cardinal to Miss Alice to work out the details of the $20 billion grant that the church is to receive from Miss Alice. After frequent meetings with Miss Alice, Julian consents to becoming married to her. After the wedding, he is left alone by all the other characters, including his supposed wife. He discovers that he did not really marry Miss Alice but rather Tiny Alice, the occupant of a miniature replica of the castle in which most of the play’s action takes place. Julian has to learn that Miss Alice is only the physical representation of Tiny Alice. He refuses to remain in the castle all alone as the trophy that Tiny Alice demanded for her large grant, desiring instead to return to a mental institution. In response, the Lawyer shoots him. Julian, bleeding to death beside the castle replica, becomes a Christlike figure in a crucifixion pose, thinking initially that he has been forsaken by God but then accepting the sacrifice asked of him and addressing Tiny Alice as God.
Miss Alice, a mysterious young woman apparently hired as a representative by Tiny Alice, the occupant of the miniature of Miss Alice’s castle. Although at the beginning of the play Miss Alice seems to be the one giving the grant, and although she likes to order others around, her subordinate role becomes increasingly clear. Like the Lawyer and the Butler, she works for Tiny Alice. She may have had love affairs with the Butler and the Lawyer, whom she seems to be giving up for Julian. Miss Alice likes to joke with Julian and does not want to harm him, but she willingly lures him into marriage to make him a sacrifice for Tiny Alice. Although she seems to care for Julian, she does not try to prevent his death but instead follows the orders of the Lawyer, which are implicitly Tiny Alice’s orders.
The Lawyer, an aggressive and intimidating man seemingly employed by Miss Alice but ultimately in the service of Tiny Alice. He represents the intelligent and unfeeling leader. He enjoys teasing his former schoolmate, the Cardinal, with whom he starts numerous arguments and whose problematic past he likes to discuss. He plays with the Cardinal’s wish to get the $20 billion grant and delights in catching the Cardinal in failures to use the majestic plural. The Butler is another victim of his witty condescension. The Lawyer seems interested in Miss Alice but ultimately does all that he can to serve Tiny Alice, the occupant of the miniature castle. To provide a sacrifice for her, he shoots Julian and refuses to call a doctor for him.
The Butler, a friendly but puzzling servant seemingly working for Miss Alice but ultimately employed by Tiny Alice. He is benevolent and helpful toward Julian and tries to assist him against the Lawyer’s intimidations. Although he presents himself as Julian’s friend, he refuses to take orders from Julian after the wedding and joins all other characters in avoiding Julian. He also does not try to prevent Julian’s murder, reasoning that, because Julian had been chosen as the sacrifice, he might be better off dead than alive.
The Cardinal, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church, who is to receive grant money from Tiny Alice. The Cardinal is used as an illustration of human conduct: The expectation of the grant makes him forget his principles (the use of the majestic plural) and prevents hesitations about sacrificing his secretary, Julian. With the Lawyer, the Cardinal shows his command of the art of argument and insult. He justifies sacrificing Julian by noting the good that this sacrifice would bring to the Roman Catholic Church, but he does not dare to tell Julian what is awaiting him. After Julian is shot, the Cardinal does not attempt to rescue him but asks him to die as a martyr.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 578
Miss Alice is a young, beautiful, wealthy woman. She manifests several contradictions, for instance, vacillating between being flirtatious and being businesslike, or despising Lawyer but being his lover. She intends to donate billions to different charitable institutions such as Jewish organizations, hospitals, universities, and the Catholic Church. It is this gift that brings her in contact with Cardinal, and thus, Julian, his secretary. Though she seems to sincerely like Julian, she, along with the other members of her household, are plotting against him. She seduces and marries Julian in order to sacrifice him to Tiny Alice. Despite the affection she shows for him, she matter of factly leaves him when the time comes.
Butler is Miss Alice’s butler and her former lover. He claims to derive his name from his job, which gives him the function of serving the others. Butler demonstrates some empathy and liking for Julian. The two men seem to forge an immediate bond, and it is only with Butler that Julian shares the more complete story of why he went into the asylum.
Cardinal is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. Lawyer approaches him with Miss Alice’s gift, but the two men already are acquainted—and heartily dislike each other—through their boyhood school. As Lawyer asserts, Cardinal is pompous and full of self-importance. He is also a hypocrite, ‘‘selling’’ his personal secretary—a man of faith—to Alice’s agents for a vast sum of money. He is complicit in the plan against Julian, as indicated in Act III. He even knows that this action might end in Julian’s death—because Lawyer tells him so—but he does not protest.
Julian (also known as Brother Julian) is the middle-aged secretary of Cardinal. He is a lay person, but he never became a priest because he experienced a crisis of faith years ago. He came to believe that people were worshipping the image of God they created, not God himself; they were worshipping the symbol of God. When this happened, he checked himself into a mental asylum for six years. While in the asylum, he had difficulties telling the difference between hallucination and reality, as demonstrated by his lack of knowledge of whether he had sex with another patient or simply imagined it. Throughout his life, however, his fantasies of martyrdom—all of which are heavily tinged with sexuality—are so vivid as to become almost real to him. At the time that the play takes place, Julian allows himself to be drawn to Miss Alice. He succumbs to her seduction and agrees to marry her. After the wedding, however, Miss Alice leaves him to die of a gunshot wound. Through his final soliloquy and death, he comes to accept what either is a hallucination or a personification of an abstract force, both of which go against his belief system.
Lawyer is the lawyer who handles the transfer of Miss Alice’s money to the church. He is also Miss Alice’s lover, but he disgusts her. He is a cruel, crude, and thoughtless man. He dislikes Cardinal, calling him the son of a whore and profiteer, and he is jealous of Miss Alice’s affections for Julian. He kills Julian at the end of the play, though Miss Alice believes that such an action was not necessary. He remains completely unaffected by Julian’s impending death as he leaves the mansion.