The Great Divorce

Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian Character Analysis

Frank’s character is a complicated metaphor for the way humans use pity and self-loathing to manipulate other people, though he only appears toward the end of the novel. In life Frank knew and was loved by Sarah Smith, and would take advantage of her love by pretending that she’d hurt his feelings. Indeed, Frank has a long history of pretending to be sad in order to make other people feel guilty—even as a child he would do so. In the afterlife, Frank appears as two different ghosts, one small (the Dwarf), the other tall (the Tragedian). The Dwarf represents Frank’s inner life: his self-hatred, and his manipulative tendencies. The Tragedian, on the other hand, represents the “image” of pain and sadness that Frank tries to project in order to make other people feel guilty. Thus, in the afterlife Frank takes on a form that externalizes the psychological processes by which Frank would try to “blackmail” Sarah into feeling sorry for him.

Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian Quotes in The Great Divorce

The The Great Divorce quotes below are all either spoken by Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian or refer to Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian. 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:
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperOne edition of The Great Divorce published in 0.
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Don't you see what nonsense it's talking.” Merriment danced in her eyes. She was sharing a joke with the Dwarf, right over the head of the Tragedian. Something not at all unlike a smile struggled to appear on the Dwarf's face. For he was looking at her now. Her laughter was past his first defenses. He was struggling hard to keep it out, bur already with imperfect success. Against his will, he was even growing a little bigger.

Related Characters: Sarah Smith (speaker), Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian
Page Number: 126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian Character Timeline in The Great Divorce

The timeline below shows where the character Frank / Dwarf / Tragedian appears in The Great Divorce. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
...gaze, the Narrator sees two old ghosts, one very tall and theatrical looking, like a Tragedian, the other small, like a Dwarf. As the two ghosts approach Sarah, the Narrator notices... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
As Sarah smiles at the Dwarf, the ghost becomes more solid. The Dwarf asks, “You missed me?” in a small, ugly... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Sarah tells the Dwarf that he can be happy now that he’s in the afterlife. The Dwarf becomes more... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
Sarah tries to explain herself to the Dwarf. She claims that she’s in love with the ghost—and with everything else. She didn’t truly... (full context)
Chapter 13
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
Immediately following the events of the previous chapter, the Narrator watches Sarah laughing. The Dwarf tries his hardest to keep from laughing along with Sarah. He can see how absurd... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
Sarah begs the Dwarf to reconsider. She tells the ghost that pity can be a dangerous weapon. Pity was... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
The Tragedian accuses Sarah of not loving him. Sarah turns to the Tragedian, as if seeing him... (full context)
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
As Sarah moves away, the Narrator asks MacDonald about Frank—he can’t help but think that it’s wrong for Sarah to be untouched by Frank’s “self-made... (full context)
Dreams, Fantasy, and Education Theme Icon
Heaven, Hell, and the “Great Divorce” Theme Icon
Christianity and Common Sense Theme Icon
Free Will and Salvation Theme Icon
Love, Sacrifice, and Sin Theme Icon
The Narrator wonders aloud why Sarah didn’t go down to Hell to visit Frank—she could have gone to the bus station to keep him company. In reply, MacDonald lets... (full context)