Pale Fire


Vladimir Nabokov

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Pale Fire can help.

Judge Goldsworth Character Analysis

Judge Goldsworth is the owner of the house that Kinbote rents across the street from John and Sybil Shade. Goldsworth is a notoriously punitive judge, and Kinbote notes that he has left many men locked up and nursing revenge fantasies. It’s also noted that John Shade slightly resembles Judge Goldsworth. Both of these facts become relevant at the novel’s climax when a man shoots and kills Shade on Goldsworth’s porch. Kinbote claims that this was the Zemblan assassin Gradus who was aiming at him but missed, but the truth is that Shade was killed by Jack Grey, a madman who escaped an institution and meant to kill Goldsworth—the man who sentenced him to the institution—but accidentally shot Shade instead, since the men resemble one another. Goldsworth himself never appears in the novel, since he’s on sabbatical in Europe at the time.
Get the entire Pale Fire LitChart as a printable PDF.
Pale Fire PDF

Judge Goldsworth Character Timeline in Pale Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Judge Goldsworth appears in Pale Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
...of 1959, when the narrator moved to New Wye, he rented a house from Judge Goldsworth, who was temporarily abroad. This house was across the street from Shade, and the narrator... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 1-48
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Lines 47-48: the frame house between Goldsworth and Wordsmith. “Goldsworth” refers to Kinbote’s landlord, Judge Goldsworth (whom Kinbote never met, because he... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 49-98
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Death, Mystery, and the Afterlife Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
...Zemblans are so prone to killing their kings. After dark, Kinbote would pace around the Goldsworth house, covered in sweat and believing that every sound was a murderer. On these nights,... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 873-1000
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...other people, including a cafeteria worker at Wordsmith who is herself said to resemble Judge Goldsworth. (full context)