William (Wilhelm) Tell
William (Wilhelm) Tell, a renowned hunter of the Canton of Uri. Tell, a pacifist, avenges the oppression of the Swiss people by slaying the ruthless governor, the representative of the emperor of Austria. Tell’s skill as a marksman is tested when he is ordered by the governor to shoot an apple off the head of his son at seventy paces. Arrested despite his obedience, Tell, in another feat of daring, escapes from the boat that carries him to imprisonment, gets his crossbow, and slays the evil governor, Gessler. Returning to his home, he finds a monk—actually a nobleman in disguise—in hiding because he has murdered the emperor. Removal of the heartless monarch and his brutal governor brings lasting freedom to the Swiss people.
Hermann Gessler (HUR-mahn GEHS-lehr), the governor of Uri and Switz, slain by Tell. Gessler, the youngest son of the emperor of Austria, sublimates his lack of status by subjugating those under his rule. Undaunted in his mercilessness, he plunders, deceives, and slays.
Ulrich von Rudenz
Ulrich von Rudenz (EWL-reekh fon REW-dehnts), the nephew of the Free Noble of Switzerland. In the spirit of youthful change and the desire for status, he wishes to side with Austria. His contention that old regimes must pass to make way for the new is motivated by his love for a woman he thinks loyal to Austria. Learning his mistake about her loyalty, Ulrich gains the courage to ridicule the governor for his unreasonableness and to prove himself a gallant in defending his own people. He becomes the baron, replacing his deceased uncle, and pronounces the Swiss free.
Bertha von Bruneck
Bertha von Bruneck (BAYR-tah fon BREW-nak), a rich heiress. Her efforts to lighten the load...
(The entire section is 819 words.)