Albano (ahl-BAH-noh), the prince of the mythical German principality of Hohenfliess (HOH-ehn-flees). Albano is a young, fiery, and handsome aristocrat. As the novel begins, he is about to meet his assumed father, Gaspar de Cesara, with whom he spent the first three years of his life on the island of Isola Bella. Albano’s complicated history is revealed to him in a letter from his mother, Princess Eleonore, toward the end of the novel. Because his real parents, the rulers of Hohenfliess, feared an attempt on his life by their cunning relatives, the rulers of the neighboring principality of Haarhaar, they arranged that their son be reared by the trustworthy burgher Wehrfritz under the supervision of Gaspard. Consequently, Albano is educated in the quiet countryside with the help of several tutors and emerges as a noble and serious young man who does not yet know the world. He admires, respects, and loves unusual and great individuals. His assumed father, a knight of the Golden Fleece, has attained superhuman status for him, primarily by his absence and invisibility. Albano is the central character of this novel, on whom all events and occurrences focus. The purpose of his entry into society, beginning with the return to the island where he spent his infancy, is the formation of Albano as a worthy successor to the throne of Hohenfliess. Eventually, Albano learns who his true parents and siblings are and becomes acquainted with Roquairol von Froulay, the son of the prime minister of Hohenfliess, who had been held up as a model by his teachers. Roquairol proves to be immoral and deceitful, and after the friendship that Albano had sought with him dissolves, Count Cesara sends him on a trip to Rome so that he can learn to appreciate art. Albano, who still does not know that he is next in line to the throne of Hohenfliess, which in the meantime has been claimed by his older and unknown brother Luigi, expresses his republican inclination in his desire to travel to France to assist the revolutionaries. In the course of the novel, Albano succeeds in emancipating himself from his complex family background and from the passivity of the young, disinterested aristocrat. When Luigi dies and Albano is told of his true birth, he gives up the planned trip to France and, along with his bride, Idoine, becomes the enlightened ruler of Hohenfliess.
Julienne, Albano’s twin sister, of whose existence he does not know until he is an adult. Along with their older brother Luigi, Julienne was reared at the court of Hohenfliess. The young princess, whose best friend is Liane von Froulay, shares the sentimentality and tendency toward ecstatic imaginings of her friend. Julienne, who is also Linda’s friend, reveals herself to Albano as his sister during his stay in Italy, where she has been visiting with Linda.
Luigi, Albano’s older brother, heir to the throne of Hohenfliess. He is a degenerate who wastes his life and suffers from boredom. His face carries an expression of permanent discontent, and his body is bloated from his incontinent eating and drinking habits. When the old prince dies, Luigi, who has married the oldest daughter of the Prince of Haarhaar, becomes ruler of Hohenfliess. He soon dies. Luigi represents the decadent aristocrat who is doomed from birth. Hope lies with Albano, who is not reared at the court.
Liane von Froulay
Liane von Froulay (fon FROW-lay), the daughter of the prime minister of Hohenfliess. Liane is fifteen years old when she first meets Albano, a year and one-half her senior, in the princely gardens of Lilar, where she and her brother are spending some time. Exceptionally beautiful, Liane is also an eager student who excels in music and drawing. Liane and Albano fall in love, but Liane renounces her claim on Albano when she is told his true identity. The young woman, sickly and sentimental, soon becomes fatally ill. On her deathbed, she requests one last visit from Albano. After her death, Albano becomes very ill and recovers only with the appearance of Idoine, his later bride, who resembles Liane.
Roquairol von Froulay
(The entire section is 1748 words.)