“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

by

Harlan Ellison

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The Harlequin Character Analysis

The Harlequin is the alias of Everett C. Mann, the protagonist of the story. Perpetually late, and therefore a misfit in his highly regimented society, the Harlequin engages in acts of minor domestic terror in order to disrupt the system and express his individuality. The Harlequin is dating Pretty Alice, who is frustrated with his idiosyncratic character and his inability to act normally or to be on time. As part of his assumed identity, the Harlequin dresses in a jester’s motley, both in order to disguise his real identity and so that his acts of disruption are easily identifiable. While the Harlequin doesn’t cause anyone any overt harm to anyone, he plunges the day-to-day operations of the world into chaos, encourages rebellion, and poses a threat to the established order. For the Harlequin, his acts of resistance are both absurd and deeply serious; he is at once a tongue-in-cheek joker and a determined rebel. Because of this, the Harlequin is the nemesis of the Ticktockman, who is in charge of regulating time and punishing the infractions of citizens. The Harlequin is in many ways the opposite of the Ticktockman, and serves as a challenge to his dominion over society. Even when the Harlequin is captured by the Ticktockman, he refuses to capitulate, choosing any punishment the Ticktockman can offer over renouncing his own acts of rebellion. Though he is ultimately brainwashed into repenting, the final moments of the story, in which the Ticktockman himself is late, suggest that the Harlequin has indeed sown the seeds of this society’s destruction.

The Harlequin Quotes in “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

The “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman quotes below are all either spoken by The Harlequin or refer to The Harlequin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Open Road edition of “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman published in 2014.
‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman Quotes

He had become a personality, something they had filtered out of the system many decades before. But there it was, and there he was, a very definitely imposing personality. In certain circles—middle-class circles—it was thought disgusting. Vulgar ostentation. Anarchistic. Shameful.

Related Characters: The Harlequin
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

And at the top—where, like socially-attuned Shipwreck Kellys, every tremor and vibration threatens to dislodge the wealthy, powerful, and titled from their flagpoles—he was considered a menace; a heretic; a rebel; a disgrace; a peril.

Related Characters: The Harlequin
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

But down below, ah, down below, where the people always needed their saints and sinners, their bread and circuses, their heroes and villains, he was considered a Bolivar; a Napoleon; a Robin Hood; a Dick Bong (Ace of Aces); a Jesus; a Jomo Kenyatta.

Related Characters: The Harlequin
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

“This is what he is, said the Ticktockman with genuine softness, “but not who he is. This time-card I'm holding in my left hand has a name on it, but it is the name of what he is, not who he is. The cardioplate here in my right hand is also named, but not whom named, merely what named. Before I can exercise proper revocation, I have to know who this what is.”

Related Characters: The Ticktockman (speaker), The Harlequin
Related Symbols: Masks and Costumes
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

The System had been seven minutes worth of disrupted. It was a tiny matter, one hardly worthy of note, but in a society where the single driving force was order and unity and equality and promptness and clocklike precision and attention to the clock, reverence of the gods of the passage of time, it was a disaster of major importance.

Related Characters: The Harlequin
Related Symbols: Jelly Beans
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes goes goes goes goes tick tock tick tock tick tock and one day we no longer let time serve us, we serve time and we are slaves of the schedule, worshippers of the sun's passing; bound into a life predicated on restrictions because the system will not function if we don't keep the schedule tight.

Until it becomes more than a minor inconvenience to be late. It becomes a sin. Then a crime.

Related Characters: The Harlequin
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

“Why let them order you about? Why let them tell you to hurry and scurry like ants or maggots? Take your time! Saunter a while! Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the breeze, let life carry you at your own pace! Don't be slaves of time, it's a helluva way to die, slowly, by degrees . . . down with the Ticktockman!”

Related Characters: The Harlequin (speaker), The Ticktockman
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

After all, his name was Everett C. Marm, and he wasn't much to begin with, except a man who had no sense of time.

Related Characters: The Harlequin, The Ticktockman
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

“I hate it. It's a terrible world.”

“Not everyone thinks so. Most people enjoy order.”

“I don't, and most of the people I know don't.”

Related Characters: The Harlequin (speaker), The Ticktockman (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman LitChart as a printable PDF.
“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman PDF

The Harlequin Character Timeline in “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

The timeline below shows where the character The Harlequin appears in “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
The Harlequin has come to the notice of authorities as a potential deviant. A rebel who is... (full context)
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
...the power to revoke the minutes, days, or even years of one’s life. Upon reviewing the Harlquin ’s file and “cardioplate.” The Ticktockman decides that the rebel must be captured and subdued—but... (full context)
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
Technology, Productivity, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the Harlequin —an auburn-haired man dressed in fully “motley”—is flying his “air-boat” over the city, listening to... (full context)
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
Technology, Productivity, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
An adherence to timeliness at all costs has slowly warped the society in which the Harlequin lives, from examples of students who get good grades but are kicked out of school... (full context)
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
After the stunt with the jelly beans, the Harlequin , whose real name is Everett C. Marm, discusses his wanted status with his girlfriend,... (full context)
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
Technology, Productivity, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The Harlequin executes another stunt to disrupt the order of things, broadcasting his intent to attend the... (full context)
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
The Harlequin ’s next act of defiance involves appearing at the top of a shopping complex, distracting... (full context)
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
Technology, Productivity, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The Ticktockman grows angrier with each of the Harlequin ’s continued acts of subversion and renews the intensity of the search for him. He... (full context)
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
The Harlequin and the Ticktockman finally confront each other face to face. The Ticktockman urges him to... (full context)
Individuality and Resistance Theme Icon
The Power of Anonymity Theme Icon
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
The Harlequin is sent to a reeducation camp, one that is implied to use similar methods to... (full context)
Order, Class, and Authority Theme Icon
Technology, Productivity, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
While the Harlequin has been vanquished, his effect is nevertheless felt in the ripples in time he has... (full context)