Darkness at Noon Major Character Analysis

Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

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Darkness at Noon Major Character Analysis

Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov

Rubashov is the central character of the book, which is an account of his moral development during the last month of his life.  He is a Faustian figure; one who has sold his soul to the devil of logic, which he believes will lead him to the “ultimate truth”.  His theories, which we have access to through his conversations and diary, contradict one another, as they swing between his adherence to “consequent logic” on the one hand, and his frustrated attempts to reconcile his guilty conscience on the other.

As a Faustian figure who trades decency for reason, the epigraphs that begin Part Three, “The Third Hearing,” are particularly relevant to him, as they address the problem of using too many words to “veil the facts” (169).  To sustain his commitment to the Machiavellian logic of the Party, Rubashov writes treatises that allow him to distance himself from the facts of his moral complicity in the suffering and deaths of many, including those who are closest to him.  With his act of self-sacrifice at the end of the book, when he publicly declares his guilt and becomes a reviled figure, he believes he has “paid his due” and has earned the right to die in peace. 


Ivanov is an old friend of Rubashov’s and his first examiner during his imprisonment.  Ivanov is presented as Rubashov’s symbolic “twin.”  As Rubashov describes it, he and Ivanov have “the same moral standard, the same philosophy, they thought in the same terms. Their positions might just as well have been the other way round” (111).  In this framework, Ivanov functions as a kind of “alternative Rubashov,” and their conversations can be read as representative of Rubashov’s struggle with himself. 


Gletkin is Rubashov’s second examiner and functions as Rubashov’s foil and as the physical “embodiment of the State which owed its very existence to the Rubashovs and Ivanovs.”  Gletkin is described as the “lesh of their flesh, grown independent and become insensible” (233)—a kind of brutal machine whose “expressionless eyes” and rigidity of posture are noted again and again, and whose “constitution” or ability…

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