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COURTESY OF ATIKA SCHOOL
A character is a person who takes part in the actions of a work of art.
She is a kitchen maid in the governor’s palace. She is a fiancé to Simon Shashava and a sister to Lavrenti Vashnadze.
She is the heroine in the play. She rescues Michael who is abandoned by her fleeing mother, Natella after the coup. To survive she makes several sacrifices and choices she stays with him for two years. She is described as
She is concerned about Simon’s fate when he is delegated to be Natella’s Abashwili’s guard after the coup. She says, “Isn’t it dangerous to go with her. You are a man Simon Shashava what has that woman got to do with you’ (pg 22)
She is concerned about the plight of the Governor she asks “What have they done with the governor” (pg 26) When Michael is left behind by his mother Natella. She picks him up to spare him from being killed by the soldiers who are looking for him. She does this despite the fact that other servants at the palace dissuade her to do so) pg 27). She has lain down all her life for the welfare of Michael.
Her courage has been motivated by her will to defend Michael. She is not afraid even at the law courts. When told by judge Azdak that she would be fined ten piasters for contempt of court she responds, “Even if it was thirty, I’d tell you what I think of your justice, you drunken onion” (pg 95)
She hits the corporal until he collapses and gets a chance to flee with the child. In a daring move, she crossses the broken bridge despite the impending danger and risks. In the court room, she confronts the Governor’s wife and says, “You want to hand the child over to her, she wouldn’t even know how to keep it dry. She is so refined. (pg 94) Grusha knows how to fight for her rights.
She is more motherly to Michael than his biological mother. When people run to save their lives and forget the baby she sits with the child all through the night until dawn. Then she takes him away. She suckled Michael just like a mother, and realizing that he is not suckling anymore, she goes to the peasant and tells him, “The baby must be fed”(pg 32)
At the trial scene, Grusha cannot bring herself to pull Michael from the chalk circle. When asked why she is not participating she says, “I brought him up! Shall I also tear him up to bits? I can’t (pg 98) This test makes judge Azdak choose the mother who is motherly. Grusha adopts Michael bringing out her deeper feelings as a mother would do. She says “Since no one else will take you son....we’ll see it through together.” (pg 39) She does several selfless actions for the sake of Michael. First, she gives up her money for the child, paying two piasters for milk then goes back to save Michael after leaving him with the peasant woman. She even gets married breaking her promise to Simon.
When the governor’s wife remarks that Michael is in ‘rags’ and “He must have been in a pigsty” (pg 97) Grusha retorts, “I’m not a pig but there are some who are!’’ In the court room when Azdak initially fines her ten piasters for contempt of court, she refers to him as a “drunken onion” (pg 55)
She is determined to keep Michael that when the corporal goes to take a look at Michael, she seizes a log and hits him in the head with it, knocking him down. Her determination is also exemplified when she succeeds in getting across the broken bridge thus risking her life and Michaels. At the court when she is asked by judge Azdak if she would want Michael to go back to her mother so that he can be rich and powerful she says, “I won’t give him up. I have raised him and he knows me.” (pg 17)
When asked by a cook why she must hold on to the baby at any price when the baby isn’t hers she says, “He’s mine. I brought him up (pg 87)
When Simon offers to help her by swearing that the child is his, she says to Simon, “Thank You” (pg 87)’
She has to miss the Easter Sunday Service to attend to the master. “I was dressed to go but they needed another gooses for the banquet.
Initially he is a village recorder/clerk but after he is accidentally chosen to be the judge by the iron shirts. He represents the voice of reason and social justice as he takes from the rich and gives to the poor. He is in charge of determining who the mother will be in the chalk circle.
During his initial appearance in stage he is in rags an indication that, he lives in abject poverty. Since he is the village recorder economic hardships triggered by an oppressive and unstable government must have contributed to his degradation.
He is a dynamic character who despite his many faults one cannot fail to admire him. Azdak can be described as:-
A) Intelligent/wise/skilful/ knowledgeable
He has firsthand knowledge about political affairs in Persia. He narrates to the iron shirts about the political turbulence in the country, when consulted by the iron shirts about installation of a new judge; he portrays himself as intelligently reasonable and sensible. He proposes that the judge to be appointed should be vetted. “tested to the marrow’ (pg 71)
He skilfully sings the song of injustice in Persia in which he is used as a vehicle to highlight evils such as inhumanity, injustice, corruption, economic devastation and poverty.
In the play within a play, he intelligently imitates the Grand Duke’s accent. His defence is quite impressive. He displays knowledge about how the princes were corrupt and did not lose war because that corruptly made money out of it. “war lost but not for the princes. Princes won their war. Got 3,863,000 piasters for horses not delivered, 8,240, 000 piasters for food supplies not produced” (pg 74) The skilful and intelligent way in which he puts up his defence makes him he installed as the judge.
As a judge he disguises his intentions well. He asks for payment from the prosecutors and Grusha. As the prosecutors are able to pay him well, they smile with relief thinking that he would be on their side, He seems to be hard on Grusha especially when he says he wants to be told the truth and especially when he tells her, we’ll make it short and not listen to any more lies (to Grusha) especially not yours (pg 93) We are surprised when he later rules the case in her favour.
He is able to exchange a dialogue using proverbs with Simon to further his argument. When Simon implies that, since he has been given work by the ruling class he thinks he is of the same class, he answers “Better a treasure in manure than a stone in a mountain stream (pg 94). He means although the nobility are corrupt, they are providing him with a means of livelihood, rather than when he would be starving with the morally upright people.
The idea of the chalk circle is a sign of intelligence on Azdak part as it finally proves that motherhood is not just the biological process but also the emotional attachment one has towards the child.
He accommodates an old man in his hut, who turns out to be the Grand Duke. Although he is in rags his generosity is seen when he offers a stranger cheese and a place to sleep.
He listens to both sides giving them chances to explain their side of the story. After the first lawyer has presented his case, Azdak asks Grusha: “What is your answer to all this and anything else the lawyer might have to say” (pg 91) When she just answers that the child is hers, he asks, “Is that all? I hope you can prove it. Why should I assign the child to you in any case.” (pg 91)
He is sensible when he refuses to divorce a couple who have been married for the last forty years but wants to get divorce simply because they don’t like each other.
Justice is done when the circle is drawn and the mothers are asked to pull the child out of it.
D) Cautious/suspicious/ discerning
He is wary of the way the old beggar behaves and he discerns that the beggar may actually be disguised” do not lick your chops like a Grand Duke.......watching you gives me the most awful ideas.....flogger.” (pg 64)
When the old man offers to give some hundred thousand piasters, he cannot trust him when he says he does not have the money with him. He handles his guest and the people he interacts with a lot of caution. He does trust the old man, “....In short I don’t trust you.” (pg 66)
He suffers from guilt conscience and reproachfully denounces himself when he realizes that he had harboured and let the Grand Duke escape. “In the name of justice, I ask to be severely judged in public trial. I’m contemptible, I am a traitor! A branded criminal.” (pg 66)
His conscience also pricks him for having treated people injudiciously. “I’ll have to pay for it. I let the.....and ....outs get away with murder. I’ll have to pay for it....” (pg 84)
He makes a joke in court when it is explained that Grusha is engaged to Simon yet is married to a peasant in the mountain village. He asks whether she did so because Simon was not good in bed.
He insults the old beggar when he discovers that he is not a beggar ‘......walking swindler! Peasant flogger and a leech.” He tells the old beggar “I couldn’t hand over a bedbug to that animal” (pg 65) referring to Shauwa. He insults the iron shirts who have been beating him. He addresses then as dogs living in the dog world. (pg 89)
He is overly corrupt. Before he presides over any case he solicits for a bribe when he says, “I accept” on pg 77 the singer tells us that he is crooked.
The way he handles the court cases leaves a lot to be desired. He sits in the judge’s chair peeling an apple.
He seems overwhelmed by the number of cases he has to handle and so he decides to handle two cases simultaneously.
He sometimes presides over serious cases out of the court where the judge’s chair has to be carried.
He enters from the caravansary.......carried (pg 77)
He presides over another case in the tavern while drinking wine.
Instead of referring to the statute book, he sits on it
He sits on the floor and does some personal grooming in the courtroom. “Azdak sits on the floor shaving......” (pg 83)
There isn’t a standard way of charging clients and it seems all are charged differently. Grusha is first fined ten, then twenty, then thirty and finally forty.
On page 93 while addressing Grusha he says, “Is he no good in bed? Tell the truth” this is in reference to Simon.
In the court, he admonishes Grusha for not, “making eye.....and wiggling her backside a little to keep him.....in good temper.” (pg 95)
He is the governor of the Grusinian people, Natella’s husband and Michael’s father. He is beheaded on Easter Sunday after his brother the Fat Prince successfully stages a coup.
He is described as;
He lacks commitment to the people he is serving. He uses his position to mistreat the poor and the less fortunate in the city of Nuka. The deplorable nature of the beggars and petitioners shows that they have been neglected and are living in abject poverty.
He is not interested in the state of war. He ignores a messenger (rider) from the capital who comes with confidential papers. He will not attend to this matter until after the service. This annoys the rider who, “.....turns sharply round and, muttering a curse goes off (pg 66)
He appears to be more interested in the Easter Sunday service than the people he serves. Christian values dictates that the weak and poor should be considered yet he ignores the many beggars and petitioners who flock the gateway.
He is more concerned about his personal interests. He intends to bring down the slums to pave way for his garden. He engages two doctors to take care of his son yet the beggar’s children are thin, with scarcely anything to eat.
He has accumulated so much wealth around him that the singer compares his richness to Croesus (a king of Lydia who was known for his riches)
His contempt for the poor masses is telling, when he ignores them as he enters the church.
He refers to his son as the apple of his eye. Two doctors are responsible for him. He is ready to build a whole wing which makes his wife Natella jealous of their son.
She is the wife to Governor Abashwili and biological mother to Michael. When the coup takes place, she leaves behind her child and later, she tries to reclaim him back from Grusha, the lady who salvaged him.
She is portrayed as;
She is so much concerned with earthly things and wealth that she even forgets her child when she is fleeing. She cannot imagine leaving behind her personal possessions such as dresses. This is done oblivious of the danger she is exposing herself and the servants to. “I’ve got to take this silver dress-it cost a thousand piasters...the wine coloured one?” (pg 25) She desperately rummages into the trunks looking for her most valuable essentials. She cannot even dream of escaping on a horse back despite prevailing danger. “Such nonsense! I wouldn’t dream of going on horseback!” (pg 25)
B) Contemptuous/ Vain/proud/self-centred
Her behaviour is characterised by false pride and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. She does not have time for beggars and her servants.
She only identifies herself with people of class. She insults a young woman who already assured her that no harm has come to her dress. “Nothing in your head, but making eyes at Shalva....I’ll kill you, you bitch.” She beats up the young woman. (pg 24)
She is offensive by nature. She lacks respect for human beings. She refers to Azdak as a creature. “What sort of a creature is that Shalva” (pg 85) she comments that Michael must have been in pigsty because he is dressed in rags.
When she enters the courtroom, she sighs with relief that there is no common man around. She says she cannot stand their smell as it always gives her migraine. She looks at Grusha and asks contemptuously, “Is that the creature” (pg 88)
She orders the woman holding Michael, Natella’s own son to put him down so that she can get her little saffron coloured boots from the bedroom. She is not interested in the child. No wonder the child is left behind as she flees.
The first lawyer cautions her against speaking disrespectfully about people until they have another judge, she retorts, “But I didn’t say anything.....I love the people with their simple straight forward minds. It’s only that their smell brings on my migraine” (pg 92)
At the courtroom, she pretends that she is very affected by the loss of her child. She describes her loss as, “A most cruel fate, sir, forces me to describe to you the fortunes of a bereaved mother’s soul, the anxiety, the sleepless nights the.......”(pg 92)
When Azdak is lifted up and dragged under the noose. The governor’s wife claps her hands hysterically and comments, “I disliked that man from the moment I first saw him.” (pg 89)
He is a policeman and a guard that accompanies Azdak to Nuka on request to a court trial. He doubles up as a prosecutor and a sweeper in court during Azdak’s term as judge.
He can be described as;
A. Compromising / tolerant/patient
He does not arrest Azdak for his criminal activity of stealing rabbits. Instead he tries to reason with him, “....When prince’s rabbits are stolen......I’m a policeman ....should I do with the offending party (pg 65). Although Azdak remains stubborn and unwilling to change his behaviour Shauwa is tolerant and patient with this. He tells him, “You caught another rabbit....you’d promised me it wouldn’t happen again.” Azdak claims the rabbit should be exterminated. He is oblivious of the tricky circumstance he places Shauwa in. The latter is tolerant and persuasive instead, Azdak don’t be hard on me. I’ll lose my job if I don’t arrest you. I know you’re a good heart” (pg 65). Shauwa is a policeman with power to arrest Azdak but instead Azdak incriminates him and orders him to go home and repent which Shauwa does.
He cooperates with Azdak who request him to take him to Nuka. He is forced to walk half the night with Azdak to clear the whole thing all by threat. All Shauwa says is, “That wasn’t nice of you Azdak “ (pg 66)
He takes orders from Azdak even in the circumstances when he has the right to rebel. Azdak shouts at him, “shut your mouth Shauwa,” shauwa does not respond to this angry outburst. (pg 67)
He obediently agrees to tell the iron shirts how Azdak had shouted at shoemaker street when ordered to by Azdak. “They confronted him in butcher street...Shoemaker Street. That’s all” (pg 67) He is ordered by Azdak to sing with him as he holds the rope around Azdak. He sings.
He appears to be a pleasant person, quite easy to get along with. During the reign of Azdak as judge, he takes responsibility of the difficult duties as being prosecutor and at the same time sweeping and serving Azdak like a servant.
He reports to Azdak and does what he is ordered to do. “Public prosecutor drop your knife” (pg 78) Shauwa obeys.
Shauwa reports all the cases to Azdak without influencing him and showing any bias. He serves Azdak wine in the tavern. “Shauwa brings him wine” (pg 79) sometimes he reports the cases while sweeping” (busy sweeping) “Blackmail” (pg 76)
When the Grand Duke returns and Azdak is scared that he will face the consequences of his actions, Shauwa warns him when he presumes there is danger “someone’s coming” (pg 84)
He is a soldier of the palace guard who remains at the door when the Governor and his family enter the Church. He is ordered to accompany the governor’s wife, Natella Abashwili as her guard. He is Grusha’s betrothed
He is portrayed as:
He accepts to accompany the Governor’s wife as her guard to Tiflis. He takes up the responsibility despite the risks involved in being identified with the Governor’s family. Grusha warns him, isn’t it dangerous to go with her” (pg 21)
When ordered by the Adjutant to move, he stands attention and goes off.
In his encounter with Grusha, he asks ceaseless questions. “May I ask if the young lady still has parents”-My second question is this,” - is the young lady as healthy as a fish in water.”
When he comes back from the war and finds Grusha by the river, he wants to know whether she is sill faithful to him and whether the child is hers.
For the two years he is away for war, he remains faithful to Grusha. This explains why he is eager to know the relationship between Michael and Grusha. To show his commitment to Grusha he offers to assist her in the case and even says that Michael is his.
His conversation with Grusha on Pg 17-18 is full of humour. “A goose (He feigns suspicion) I’d like to see that goose. I only went for a fish.
When he returns from war, he goes to look for Grusha at the Northern Mountains. He asks her “How are things here? Was the winter bearable?”
When the Governor is toppled and killed he comes to look for Grusha: “Grusha! There you are at last! What are you going to do? (pg 21)
When he is delegated to accompany Natella by the Adjutant and Grusha complains. He answers “That woman has nothing to do with me. I have my orders and I go” (pg 22)
He cares about the welfare of Grusha when he acquires about the parents, whether she is healthy and if she is impatient.
He gives Grusha a silver chain to cement their relationship. He is always there for her.
F. Impatient/Hot tempered
He does not take time to listen to Grusha’s explanation that she has been faithful to him. To him she is married and has a son. He tells her, “Give me back the cross I gave you. Better still throw it in the stream.” (pg 61)
He makes use of several proverbs in answer to Azdak
“A fine day, lets go fishing said the angler to the warm”( pg 94)
“A well can’t be filled with dew, they say” (pg 90)
When he realizes that Azdak has granted Grusha divorce, he is so grateful that he tells the judge that forty piasters are cheap when one considers what he has gained. “Cheap at your price, your honour. And many thanks.”
He is Grusha’s brother and husband to Aniko. When Grusha flees to the mountains, he accommodates her and makes arrangement for her to get married to the “dying man”-Jussup.
He is portrayed as;
The manner in which he quietly and quickly inquires from Grusha whether there is a father to the child indicates that he is fearful. He is intimidated by his wife. Due to this Lavrenti anxiously says that they must think something up.
He fears that the priest had questioned Grusha about the child and only gets relieved to hear that Grusha did not tell him anything.
He is fearful of the people who are already gossiping about the illegitimate child.
Due to the fear of his wife and people he organizes for a fake marriage for Grusha so that people won’t talk. “So people won’t talk “ (pg 49) The singer comments, “The cowardly brother.......giver of shelter” (pg 47)
B. Hospital/ welcoming
When Grusha flees to the mountains and finally lands at his home, he welcomes her cordially despite the initial fears he has on how his wife will react.
He lies to Aniko that Grusha is on her way to her husband and Grusha says she got married to a man on the other side of the mountain.
He plans to steal Aniko’s milk money to use it for Grusha’s wedding.
To cover up his wife’s weaknesses, he purports she is sensitive and religious.
In order to get rid of Grusha, he plans for her marriage with a dying man. He does this secretly without informing his wife.
He wants to ensure that they do not suffer shame so he makes people believe that Grusha actually had a husband on the other side of the mountain. “People mustn’t know anything” (pg 47). He organizes the marriage without consulting Grusha initially, only to inform her later about the arrangement.
He hides the baby from the monk and only brings out the baby when the ceremony is over for he knows very well that the vows cannot be reversed.
She is Lavrenti’s wife and a sister-in-law to Grusha. She is portrayed as;
She is portrayed as being religious but lacks religious qualities. Grusha arrives at their home worn out and tires, all she is concerned is about Grusha’s single status. “If your husband’s not in the city, where is he....has your husband got a farm...but when will he come back if the war’s broken out again as people say?” (pg 46)
Lavrenti explains to Grusha that she cannot stay for long with them because Aniko is religious. “.....but you can’t stay here long with child. She’s religious; you see (pg 46)
When Grusha faints she says, “Heavens she’s ill what are we going to do....as long....as its not scarlet fever.......if it’s consumption we’ll get it” (pg 45-46)
She keeps on shouting to the servants Sosso! Where on earth are you? Sosso! (pg 46)
When she is introduced to Grusha instead of welcoming her, she asks “I thought you were in service in Nuka....wasn’t it a good job? We are told it was.
Lavrenti has to defend her to Grusha “She has a good heart. But wait till after supper (pg 46)
Grusha even has to tell Michael, “Michael we must be clever, if we make ourselves as small as cockroaches. The sister-in-law will forget we’re in the house and then we can stay till the snow melts” (pg 47)
She is the mother to Jussup. She makes arrangement with Lavrenti to have his sister married to her son Jussup on his ‘deathbed’
She is portrayed as;
She is to be paid by Lavrenti 400 piasters for having Grusha marry Jussup. When she discovers that there is a child, Lavrenti has to offer 200 piasters more and she readily agrees to have the marriage take place “My Jussup doesn’t have to marry a girl with a child...all right make it another 200 piasters. (pg 50). She hires a cheap monk to perform the wedding in order to save. “She saved on the priest the wretch. Hired a cheap monk (pg 50)
Takes advantage of her son’s illness to make money by marrying him off on his deathbed. “The son of this peasant woman is going to die.... How much does the peasant want? Four hundred piasters” (pg 49) she also gets a chance to add more money when she discovers that the bride has a child-Lavrenti has to add two hundred piasters more.
When she sees Grusha with the child, she weeps, saying that her people are honest and she does not want to live with the shame.
She makes the monk accept that Jussup has accepted the marriage: “Of course he is! Didn’t you hear him say yes?” (pg 51)
When she arrives with the monk, she tells the guests “I hope you won’t mind waiting a few moments? My son’s bride has just arrived from the city. An emergency wedding is about to be celebrated (pg 51). Grusha has not arrived from the city nor is she her sons beloved. When the monk and she enter the bedroom, she tells him, “I might have known you couldn’t keep your trap shut” (pg 51). This means she is not amused by the arrival of the guests. When the monk inquires about the child, she tells him, “Is there a child? I don’t see a child...you understand? (pg 52)
He is referred to as the Fat Prince. He is a brother to the Governor. He plots and stages a coup, with the help of ironshirts that leads to the killing of his brother-The Governor. When the Grand Duke returns after two years he is deposed and beheaded.
He is portrayed as;
He pretends to be so much pleased with the governor’s family that he bows and remarks sarcastically that Michael is a governor from head to foot.”
He hypocritically terms George’s intention of bringing down slums to pave room for the garden, good news. “Good news after so much bad” (pg 5) He has instigated war against the Grand Duke and the Governor; He intends to overthrow the government. He then claims that the universally loved judge has been hanged. “My friends, we need peace, peace in Grusinia! And justice! So I’ve brought along my dear nephew Bizergan Kazbeki (pg 71)
He pretends that he wants the ironshirts to confer and democratically decide who should be judge yet at the same time informs his nephew, “Don’t worry my little fox. The job’s yours (pg 71). More so he intends to ignore the Ironshirts once the Grand Duke is arrested. He tells his nephew “and when we catch the Grand Duke, we won’t have to please this rabble any longer.” (pg 71)
He schemes for the murder of the Governor and once he is executed, he orders the drunken soldiers to fasten his head on the wall using nails. He desperately looks for Michael so that he can kill him. He comments, “It’s a pity they took the brat along though, I need him, urgently” (pg 28)
C. Crafty/scheming/ cunning
He schemes to install his nephew as judge by influencing the Iron shirts but they stage a rehearsal with the nephew acting as judge. He tells the nephew. “It isn’t customary....who got there first.” (pg 72)
He fights for his nephew to be installed as judge. The iron shirts outwit him in his own game and the position goes to Azdak.
His plan to overthrow the system run by the Grand Duke is motivated by greed for power. He even kills the Governor, his brother, and act that shows the extent hunger for control and power can push one to. Since evil begets evil, he is executed the same way he killed his brother.
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