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Pale Fire | Characters

Character Description
Kinbote Charles Kinbote is a professor at Wordsmith College in New Wye, Appalachia. He also believes he is the exiled King Charles Xavier Vseslav, the last king of Zembla, also known as Charles the Beloved. Read More
Shade John Shade is a 61-year-old American poet. He is somewhat famous and is usually mentioned right after 20th-century American poet Robert Frost. Read More
Gradus Jakob Gradus is a member of the Shadows, an elite group of enforcers for the revolutionary Extremist party in Zembla. As an assassin, he uses the aliases Jacques Degré, Jacques d'Argus, Jack Degree, Jacques de Grey, James de Gray, Ravus, and Ravenstone. Read More
Alfin the Vague Alfin was a king of Zembla and father of Charles Vseslav, the last king of Zembla.
Andronnikov Andronnikov is a Soviet agent and a thug for the Shadows. He searches for the Zemblan crown jewels, along with Niagarin.
Bob Bob is a "dissipated young roomer" Kinbote takes in. When Kinbote takes a trip, Bob brings a woman into the house and "betray[s] [Kinbote's] trust by taking sordid advantage of [his] absence."
Botkin Botkin teaches in the same department as Kinbote at Wordsmith. He is also from Zembla.
Oswin Bretwit Oswin is the Zemblan consul in Paris. He is a loyal friend of King Charles, but he is not very bright and gives a clue to Gradus.
Professor C. Professor C. is a Freudian literary scholar at Wordsmith.
Jim Coates Jim Coates is a reporter who writes an article about the near-death experience of Mrs. Z.
Conmal Conmal is a Zemblan man who mastered the English language and spent years translating English poetry, including works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Kipling.
Pete Dean Pete Dean is the alias of Peter Provost, brother of Jane Provost. He bails on a blind date with Hazel Shade on the last night of her life.
Disa, Duchess of Payn Disa marries Charles Xavier and becomes queen of Zembla. She grew up summering on the French Riviera and does not miss Zembla when she is forced into exile.
Gerald Emerald Gerald Emerald is the pseudonym of a young instructor at Wordsmith. Gerald may also be Izumrudov, an agent of the Shadows.
Fleur Fleur is a daughter of Countess de Fyler, a lady in waiting to the Queen of Zembla. Young Prince Charles Xavier has a sort of romance with Fleur, though it remains chaste.
Garh Garh is a young Zemblan peasant woman who guides King Charles through the mountains and tries to seduce him.
Judge Goldsworth The next-door-neighbor of John and Sybil Shade, Judge Goldsworth rents his house to Kinbote. Goldsworth may have sentenced Jack Grey, and he may be the intended target of the shooting.
Jack Grey Jack Grey, an escapee from a mental institution, is arrested for the shooting of John Shade. Kinbote believes Jakob Gradus and Jack Grey are the same person.
Professor Hurley Also known as Paul H., Professor Hurley is the head of the English department at Wordsmith. He distrusts Kinbote and believes he is not competent enough to edit Shade's final poem.
Gordon Krummholz The nephew of Joe Lavender, attractive teenager Gordon is a musical prodigy who shows Gradus around Joe's house.
Joe Lavender Joe is an American friend of Odon's in the European town of Lex.
Aunt Maud A poet and painter, Aunt Maud raises the orphaned John Shade.
Oscar Nattochdag Nattochdag is a distinguished Zemblan scholar and head of Kinbote's department at Wordsmith.
Niagarin Niagarin is a Soviet agent and a thug for the Shadows. He searches for the Zemblan crown jewels, along with Andronnikov.
Sylvia O'Donnell Wealthy Sylvia O'Donnell is a trustee of Wordsmith College and owner of an estate near Baltimore. She is also the mother of King Charles's friend Odon and arranges for Charles to teach under an alias at Wordsmith.
Odon Odon is the Zemblan pseudonym of Donald O'Donnell, "world-famous actor and Zemblan patriot." He helps King Charles escape from Zembla.
Oleg Oleg, Duke of Rahl, is Charles's playmate when they are children and his lover when they are teenagers. He is killed in a toboggan accident.
Professor Pnin Head of the Russian department at Wordsmith, Professor Pnin is also the titular character of Nabokov's novel Pnin.
Jane Provost A family friend of the Shades', Jane Provost is given the pseudonym Jane Dean in the poem "Pale Fire."
Hazel Shade Hazel Shade is the awkward, lonely, and bookish daughter of John and Sybil Shade. She drowns in a lake.
Sybil Shade Sybil Shade is the adored wife (and later widow) of John Shade. She tolerates no nonsense from her annoying neighbor, Charles Kinbote.
Mrs. Z. Mrs. Z. has a near-death experience in which she sees a white mountain.
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