Pale Fire: Character Profiles
Disa, Duchess of Payne
Disa is Charles Xavier's wife. The King married her because he was under pressure to create an heir. He could not, however, consummate the marriage because he is not attracted to women. Disa suffered emotionally because of her husband's rejection.
Gradus is also known as Jack Grey. He killed John Shade. Kinbote believes Gradus was a revolutionary trying to assassinate him. The police believe that Jack Grey is a crazy man who mistook Shade for Judge Goldsworth, who put Grey into prison and who is renting his home to Kinbote.
Charles Kinbote writes the Foreword, the Commentary, and the Index. He claims to be King Charles Xavier, the Beloved, of Zembla in hiding. He may also be Charles Botkin, an American of Russian descent.
He describes wonderful homosexual encounters as the king of Zembla, but he meets with rejection and scorn when he pursues romance as Charles Kinbote. Potential lovers are not the only ones to spurn him. Members of the faculty and his neighbors, the Shades, really want very little to do with him because he is socially very awkward.
After John Shade's death, he attains the write to edit the poet's final poem. Much of the commentary is really about Kinbote's adventures, and he is bitter that the poem is not also about his life. Because he espouses an unconventional view of Shade's death and final poem, he is further persecuted by members of the college and he flees to another hiding place.
Odon is one of the revolutionaries who overthrew Charles Xavier. However, Odon really is a royalist, and he helped the King escape. Now, he is making films in France, and his mother helped the king find a place to hide in the United States.
Hazel Shade is the daughter of John and Sybil Shade. Socially unsuccessful, Hazel killed herself after being rejected by a date. The poem "Pale Fire" is about her death.
John Shade wrote the poem "Pale Fire" before he was killed. Shade is a well-known American poet. He also teaches at Wordsmith College. He dislikes heavy symbolism, preferring narrative poetry. Shade is kind to Kinbote but does not want to be close friends with him.
Sybil Shade is John Shade's wife. Sybil dislikes Kinbote and prefers not to have him around.