The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by

Ursula K. Le Guin

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The Left Hand of Darkness Characters

Genly Ai

Ai is the protagonist and primary narrator of the novel. He acts as a stand-in for the reader, a human on an alien planet, taking in a strange new world. He is a Terran man… read analysis of Genly Ai

Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven)

Estraven begins the novel as Karhide’s prime minister, but sacrifices his appointment to help Ai with his mission. To Ai, who doesn’t understand Karhidish shifgrethor, or the intricate workings of Gethenian government, Estraven seems… read analysis of Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven)

King Argaven XV

The “mad king” of Karhide. He is not particularly curious or intelligent. Ai judges him to be “neither sane nor shrewd,” but concedes that Argaven is well-versed and practiced in rhetorical political speech. This… read analysis of King Argaven XV

Pemmer Harge rem ir Tibe (Tibe)

Tibe is the cousin of King Argaven, and rises through the kyorremy to become his prime minister. Tibe is patriotic in a dangerous way, in that his love for his nation is entangled with… read analysis of Pemmer Harge rem ir Tibe (Tibe)

Ashe Foreth

Estraven’s kemmering, with whom he has two children. They were committed to each other for seven years, although Ashe is now a Foreteller and celibate. He still cares deeply about Estraven, and is… read analysis of Ashe Foreth
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Minor Characters
Ai’s Landlady
The owner and caretaker of the Island in which Ai stays in Erhenrang. His sexuality confuses Ai, who sees him as a woman, but also knows him to have fathered many children.
Faxe
A Weaver and Foreteller who lives at the Otherhord Fastness. Ai finds Faxe very beautiful, and sharply intelligent, and is drawn to him. Ai believes Faxe is naturally empathetic and could communicate with mindspeech if he wanted, but Faxe has no desire to learn.
Goss
A young man who lives and works at the Otherhord Fastness.
Meshe
A former Handdarata Foreteller who went on to found Yomeshta. Said to be able to see everything that ever was or would be.
Estraven's Cook
A man who serves Estraven in his home in Erhenrang. Even after Estraven has been declared a traitor, the cook leaves out food for him to take into his exile, a gesture of faith in Estraven’s character.
Yegey
An Orgota Commensal in the Open Trade Faction. He initially acts as a friend to Ai, but sells him out when the political tides turn.
Obsle
An Orgota Commensal representing the Sekeve District. He is a member of the Open Trade Faction. He initially acts as a friend to Ai, but sells him out when the political tides turn.
Ong Tot Oppong
A female Investigator who explored Gethen forty years before Ai’s arrival. The chapter “The Question of Sex” is drawn from her field notes.
Commissioner Shusgis
An Orgota Commensal. He houses Ai and appears to support him and his mission, but eventually sells him out when the political tides turn. Ai describes Shusgis as a “hard shrewd jovial politician, whose acts of kindness served his interest and whose interest was himself.”
Mersen
An Orgota Commensal and Karhidish spy.
Gaum
An Orgota Commensal and member of the Sarf. He believes Ai is a fraud whose goal is to embarrass Orgoreyn. He actively works to undermine Ai’s credibility and derail his mission. He is also said to be very beautiful.
Slose
An Orgota Commensal in the Open Trade Faction. He initially acts as a friend to Ai, but sells him out when the political tides turn.
Ithepen
An Orgota Commensal and member of the Sarf who believes in Ai’s mission. He represents the Enyen District.
Asra
A man imprisoned at the Labor Farm with Genly Ai. He is dying of some kind of kidney disease, and the two men spend many days convalescing together. He shares myths and religious tales with Ai, and Ai in turn tells him about the wider universe.
Mehse
A Gethenian prophet and founder of the Yomeshta religion. He was said to be enlightened at age thirty, from which point on he could see the past, present, and future simultaneously.
Mavriva
A friendly hunter whom Estraven meets as he travels north to rescue Ai from his Labor Farm.
Arek Harth rem ir Estraven (Arek)
Estraven’s brother, who died fourteen years ago. He has a son with Estraven named Sorve.
Thessicher
A farmer and old friend of Estraven who lives outside of Sassinoth.
Lang Heo Hew
One of Genly Ai’s shipmates, who works on behalf of the Ekumen.
Tulier
One of Genly Ai’s shipmates, who works on behalf of the Ekumen.
Ke'sta
One of Genly Ai’s shipmates, who works on behalf of the Ekumen.
Esvans Harth rem ir Estraven (Esvans)
Estraven’s father.
Sorve
Estraven’s son. Sorve’s father is Arek.