Caucasian Chalk Circle: Character Profiles
Georgi Abashvili is the Governor of Nukha, who is beheaded after his brother the Fat Prince successfully stages a coup. He is oppressive to the people and too arrogant to listen to the messenger who tries to warn him.
The baby Michael is the Governor’s son and heir to the Governor’s estates. When his mother abandons him during the coup, he is rescued by the servant Grusha who protects him from the pursuing Ironshirts who want to kill the Governor’s heir. Grusha later claims Michael as her own child, and Azdak allows her to keep him.
Natella is the Governor’s selfish wife, who leaves her baby Michael behind, caring more about packing her dresses than saving her child. After the civil war, she tries to get Michael back in order to reclaim the Governor’s estates. The judge Azdak rules against her because she is not as good for the child as Grusha is.
Aniko is Grusha’s hypocritical sister-in-law, described as a religious woman. She tries everything to get Grusha out of her house, because she is afraid of what the neighbors will say about an unmarried woman with a child. Grusha has to say Michael is her child to protect him.
Azdak is originally a village clerk who comes from Persia. When he accidentally saves the Grand Duke’s life by hiding him in his hut during the civil war, he confesses his crime, but the soldiers refuse to believe him, thinking him crazy. When the Fat Prince arrives and offers the soldiers the chance to choose the new judge, they pick Azdak as a joke. He becomes known for his strange judgments that seem to favor the poor though he openly takes bribes from the rich. He presides over Grusha’s case and uses the Chalk Circle test to find the true mother. After awarding Grusha the child and annulling her marriage, he disappears but becomes a folk legend among the people. He turns the Governor’s estate into a playground for children, called the Garden of Azdak.
Simon Chachava is a soldier who remains loyal to the Grand Duke; he and Grusha fall in love, and she promises to marry him when he returns from the war. Instead, she is forced to marry Yussup before Simon returns. Simon sticks by Grusha, prepared to testify in court that Michael is his child. Azdak “mistakenly” annuls Grusha’s marriage, thus allowing Grusha and Simon to marry after all. Simon adopts Michael as his own son.
Singer Arkadi Cheidze
Arkadi is the man introduced in the prologue who sings and narrates the parable of the Caucasian Chalk Circle to the workers after the decision to give the valley to the fruit farmers. He is called the Singer in the play.
Expert from the State Reconstruction Commission
In the prologue, the Expert from the State Reconstruction Commission is a man sent by the state to mediate the dispute between the peasants over who owns the valley. He gives the valley to the fruit farmers in the end.
The Grand Duke rules the province, with his governors. He is engaged in a foreign war in Persia when the Princes meet and decide to depose him and his governors. He goes into exile for two years, hiding in the hut of Azdak, who does not turn him in. The Duke gets the support of the Persians, his former enemies, to return and oust the Fat Prince. The Grand Duke then saves Azdak’s life by allowing Azdak to remain a Judge.
The Ironshirts are the Gestapo-like guards who pursue Grusha because she has stolen the Governor’s child (the heir). They have orders to kill the child. Grusha knocks one of them out with a log to save Michael.
Arsen Kazbeki, the Fat Prince
Arsen Kazbeki is the brother of the Governor. He uses the Ironshirts to stage a coup and kill his brother. After ruling for two years he is deposed and beheaded by the return of the Grand Duke.
Ludovica is a good-looking and provocative peasant woman who has had sex with the stable boy. She is brought before Azdak by her father-in-law, who accuses the stable boy of raping her. Azdak rules in the stableboy’s favor and then tries to get Ludovica to sleep with him as well.
The Messenger comes from the Grand Duke to restore Azdak as Judge after the Prince has lost power. The Messenger saves Azdak’s life since the farmers were about to string him up.
The drunken monk is paid to perform the marriage ceremony for Grusha and Yussup, but because he is cheap, he does not do a very good job.
Old Married Couple
The old peasant couple has been married forty years and want a divorce. Azdak hears their case along with the Chalk Circle case. He agrees to annul their marriage but “accidentally” annuls Grusha’s marriage instead.
Old Peasant with milk
An old peasant woman who has milk is willing to take Michael from Grusha to hide him, but she is frightened by the Ironshirts, and Grusha has to rescue Michael and flee with him to the mountains.
Poor Old Peasant Woman
A peasant woman claims “miracles” keep happening to her in a case tried by Azdak. Her brother-in-law is a bandit who makes the miracles happen by stealing from rich farmers and giving the food to her. Azdak rules in favor of the miracles.
Peasants on the Left
The Peasants on the Left in the prologue are the Fruit farmers of the Rosa Luxemburg Commune who wish to irrigate the valley.
Peasants on the Right
The Peasants on the Right in the prologue are the Goat-herders from the Galinsk Goat-Breeding Commune to whom the valley used to belong.
Shalva is Governor Abashvali’s Adjutant. He helps the Governor’s wife to escape during the coup.
Shauwa is a policeman who becomes Azdak’s assistant during his period of being a Judge.
Grusha is the heroine of the tale, a kitchen maid in the Governor’s palace who rescues the Governor’s son Michael during the civil war. At great cost to herself she brings up the child as her own son. In order to do this she has to break her engagement to Simon Chachava and marry the peasant Yussup. She cares for the child for two years until the return of the old regime. Natella, the birth mother, tries to get Michael back. Azdak uses the test of the Chalk Circle to decide who should have the child. Azdak gives the child to the adoptive mother, Grusha. Grusha is a good and strong person, the only one besides Azdak who is unafraid to tell the truth.
Lavrenti is Grusha’s brother who stands by his wife Aniko rather than his sister. They let the unmarried Grusha stay at their farm with Michael over the winter but force her into marrying the peasant Yussup to get rid of her.
Yussup is reputed to be dying, so Lavrenti marries Grusha to him so she can be respectable and have a place to stay. He comforts her that she will soon be a widow. She thinks she will still be able to marry Simon when he returns from the war. Yussup is only pretending to be dying to get out of the war. He gets out of bed the minute the war is over, and then Grusha is stuck with him.