Claire is a fateful figure, having returned to Güllen after forty-five years to seek revenge upon Alfred Ill, a man who betrayed her in her youth. She was driven from town at seventeen after… read analysis of Claire Zachanassian
Ill begins the play as Güllen’s most popular citizen and its mayor-to-be, but he ultimately becomes the object of the town’s derision—an obstacle to the billion dollar endowment promised to them by Claire on the… read analysis of Alfred Ill
Claire cycles through three husbands over the course of the play. She arrives to Güllen with her seventh husband in tow, but promptly abandons him to marry a German film star in Güllen’s cathedral, as… read analysis of Husbands VII-IX
Also known as Boby (a nickname given by Claire), he was the former Chief Justice of Güllen, who presided over Claire’s paternity trial before taking a job at the Kaffigen Court of Appeals. For… read analysis of Butler
The teacher is the only man in Güllen (besides Ill) to acknowledge the insidiousness of the Gülleners new spending habits after Claire’s promise of a billion dollars in exchange for Ill’s death. He struggles to… read analysis of Teacher
Roby and Toby
Former New York gangsters whom Claire saved from the electric chair for one million dollars each and now employs as sedan-chair bearers and on-call guitarists. The men are brutish and are almost always chewing gum.
Ill’s wife and the original owner of the general store that Ill now manages. Ill maligns their marriage after Claire bitterly accuses him of having married his wife for her assets, rather than love.
Ill’s son (whose real name is Karl). He eventually discontinues his daily visits to the railway station in search of work in favor of driving his new car around the countryside.
Ill’s daughter (whose real name is Ottilie). Her daily visits to the Employment Office in search of work eventually become daily trips to the tennis court in search of recreational leisure.
The staid, rambling, and insincere Mayor of Güllen. He initially rejects Claire’s proposal, but he is later seduced by the prospect of material gain. In the end, he incites the crowd at Ill’s “trial” to vote to kill Ill.
A Güllener, and the representative of law enforcement of the town within the play, who is eventually seduced by Claire’s money.
A Güllener, and the representative of religion in the town, who is eventually seduced by Claire’s money.
Güllen’s doctor. He and the Teacher visit Claire at the beginning of Act III, hoping to dissuade her from killing Ill.
Townsmen of Güllen. They also play the trees in the woods of Konradsweil.
A man sent to place a lien on Güllen (i.e. to hold property in Güllen as collateral until the town has paid off its debts).
Güllen’s sign painter.
A citizen of Güllen and object of derision for the First and Second Women, who consider her tasteless.
First and Second Women
Two gossipy citizens of Güllen and patrons of Ill’s general store.