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Black Michael - Character of The Novel (The Prisoner of Zenda)

 Question 04)BLACK MICHAEL (Duke of Strelsau)


The novel “Prisnor of Zinda” written by “Anthony Hope” has verities in it. It was written in 1893 and published in 1894. A novel is for amusement and entertainment with creative and imaginative thought. There are ambitions and loves, friendships and sacrifices, rivalries and conspiracies; suspense, action and thrill.


Black Michael is the villain of the novel entitled “The Prisoner of Zenda” created by Anthony Hope. He is stepbrother of King Elphberg. He is not the legal heir to the throne because he is the son of the king’s second and morganatic marriage. Black Michael is the owner of castle of Zenda and the surrounding estate. Being the favourite of the late king of Ruritania, he is appointed as the Duke of Strelsau. He is schemer and evil by nature.


Black Michael, the Duke of Strelsau, is the villain of the novel. He is the half brother of Rudolf Elphberg, the real king of Ruritania. He has no legal right to the throne of Ruritania, because he is the son of late king by a second and morganatic marriage. He is an over ambitious man who wants to usurp (sieze or grab) the throne. He wants to achieve his objectives by hook or by crook. For this purpose, he hatches a devilish plot to imprison the lawful king. He succeeds but cannot ascend the throne because of Rudolf Ressendyll who impersonates the real king. Therefore, Black Michael becomes a mortal enemy of Ressendyll. With the supports of his followers, he tries to remove Ressendyll from throne of Ruritania but in vain.Colonel Sapt tells Rassendyll about him.

If you do not go, I swear to you, Black Michael will sit tonight on the throne and the king will lie in the prison or grave.


The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. Hazlitt, William

Black Michael is a hypocrite. He promises Mauban to marry her but at the same time he tries to win the love of Princes Flavia and marry her in order to make him right to the throne stronger. He also makes a false show of affection to Rudolf Elphberg. He is a coward and depends entirely on his six followers who always fight for him.


Black Michael is crooked by nature and is a schemer. He is such a wicked, selfish and unreliable man that he becomes an enemy of his own brother and imprisons him in the castle of Zenda. He is a power hungry person who wants to grab power and pelf by foul means. He is not sincere to Mauban who loves him sincerely and passionately. He makes her tool for carrying out his evil designs. He explores his ruthlessly in order to achieve his political motives. Once he says to Rupert.

“A threat is more warning than most men get from me”


 Like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he is an over ambitious person. He forgets the fact.

Over ambitious destroys its possessor. (A saying from the Talmud of traditionalJudaism)

He wants to achieve his objectives by unfair means. Therefore, he conspires against his own brother who is the real king of Ruritania. He hatches intrigues in order to usurp the throne of Ruritania. He hatches a plot against Raeeendyll too, but he escapes from the clutches of Michael due to his bravery, courage and wisdom.

It is well said,

Intrigue is the main weapon of a villain and he uses it mercilessly.


Black Michael is an abominable character. We begin to hate him as soon as his evil nature is exposed to us and our hatred is intensified with the advancement of the story. When he is killed at the hand of Rupert, we do not feel any sympathy for him. In fact, he is rightly, punished for his wickedness and villainy.


A villain is the engineer of his own catastrophe.


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