Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The first convict

The first convict, a prominent physician and son of a physician, sentenced to death for murdering a patient, the husband of a woman with whom he falls in love. Although he has confessed to this crime of love at his trial, he later protests that the woman, misrepresenting her husband’s character, encouraged him to kill the husband and, after they were married, betrayed him by establishing a relationship with his own defense attorney. He is obsessed with his wife and, he tells the prison doctor, would like nothing better than a few minutes alone with her, to strangle her. When cut off from Earth (act 2) on the rocket trip and later, when the rocket crashes (act 3) on a strange planet (where electrical charges, and not blood and hearts, energize him and his fellow space traveler), he still believes in emotions and in good and evil, and he treasures memories. Back on Earth (act 4), love remains important to him and causes his re-incarceration at the end of the play.

The guard

The guard, who talks briefly with the first convict at the beginning of the play as the latter, expecting to face execution any day, paces back and forth in his cell nervously.

The prison doctor

The prison doctor, who is respectful of the first convict’s scientific knowledge and accomplishments in medicine, although he does not believe the latter’s story about his wife’s collusion with the defense attorney.

The warden

The warden, who visits the first convict twice (in act 1) to announce that his wife has come to see him and then that he may have a reprieve from his death sentence if he agrees to a proposal by the representative of a scientific agency. As a condition of accepting the proposal, the first convict is thereafter not allowed to see his wife.

The representative of a scientific agency

The representative of a scientific agency, who comes to the first convict with a top secret proposal, a scientific experiment involving a manned rocket being sent into outer space with little chance of the men on board returning or surviving the journey. The first convict agrees to participate in the experiment as preferable to his imminent execution.


(The entire section is 938 words.)