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Death in Venice | Study Guide

Thomas Mann

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Death in Venice | Characters

Character Description
Gustav von Aschenbach A famous author, Aschenbach represses his sensual drives for decades, which leads to his obsession with a beautiful boy and ultimately to the writer's death. Read More
Tadzio The son of a wealthy Polish family, 14-year-old Tadzio becomes the idealized object of desire for the writer Gustav von Aschenbach. Read More
Barber The barber convinces Aschenbach to use hair dye and wear makeup to hide his age.
Englishman A clerk at a British travel agency, the Englishman feels guilty about how authorities are covering up the spread of disease in Venice and, as a result, explains to Aschenbach in detail how a cholera epidemic has hit the city.
Goateed man A grotesque, hunchbacked man, the goateed man signs in Aschenbach as a passenger on a boat to Venice.
Governess A short, stout woman, the governess takes care of Tadzio and his three sisters.
Jaschu The robust Jaschu often plays with his frail best friend, Tadzio. Near the end of the story Jaschu bullies Tadzio mercilessly.
Manager When talking with Aschenbach, the hotel manager covers up the spread of disease in Venice.
Mother A reserved, proud woman, the mother has one son, Tadzio, and three daughters.
Old man On a boat to Venice Aschenbach sees an old man wearing makeup in a pathetic attempt to disguise his age. The man foreshadows what Aschenbach will become.
Redheaded gondolier Like the other redheaded men, the redheaded gondolier represents Aschenbach's repressed Dionysian (sensual) drives. Seemingly a foreigner, he is hostile to Aschenbach and disobeys Aschenbach's orders by taking him directly to his hotel on the Lido.
Redheaded man in the cemetery Like the other redheaded men, the one in the cemetery represents Aschenbach's repressed Dionysian (sensual) drives. Standing in a Munich cemetery, the staring redheaded man seems hostile and like a foreigner to Aschenbach.
Redheaded minstrel Like the other redheaded men, the minstrel represents Aschenbach's repressed Dionysian (sensual) drives. Seemingly a foreigner and hostile to Aschenbach, at the end of the performance, he mocks Aschenbach and other audience members, who will probably die if they stay in Venice.
Three sisters The three girls are Tadzio's sisters; they dress in severe clothing, which contrasts with their brother's playful attire.
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