Asterios Polyp
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"Asterios Polyp" Characters Analysis

By David Mazzucchelli

graphic novels | 344 pages | Published in 2009

The triumphant return of one of comics’ greatest talents, with an engrossing story of one man’s search for love, meaning, sanity, and perfect architectural proportions. An epic story long awaited, and well worth the wait. Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. In a tenacious daze, he leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this “escape” really about? As the story unfolds, moving between the present and the past, we begin to understand this confounding yet fascinating character, and how he’s gotten to where he is. And isn’t. And we meet Hana: a sweet, smart, first-generation Japanese American artist with whom he had made a blissful life. But now she’s gone. Did Asterios do something to drive her away? What has happened to her? Is she even alive? All the questions will be answered, eventually.In the meantime, we are enthralled by Mazzucchelli’s extraordinarily imagined world of brilliantly conceived eccentrics, sharply observed social mores, and deftly depicted asides on everything from design theory to the nature of human perception.Asterios Polyp is David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece: a great American graphic novel.

ISBN_13:9780307377326

Estimated read time: 8 min read

List of Characters

NameRole
Asterios PolypProtagonist
HanaAsterios' ex-wife
Ursula MajorAsterios' deceased twin
StiffyAsterios' childhood friend
IgnazioAsterios' father
HannaIgnazio's girlfriend
David SmithAsterios' former student
UrsulaDavid's sister

Role Identification

Asterios Polyp is the protagonist of the book "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzucchelli. He is a renowned architect who experiences a series of personal and professional challenges throughout the story.

Character Descriptions

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp is a middle-aged architect known for his innovative and unconventional designs. He is described as tall and thin, with a prominent nose and a receding hairline. Asterios is often seen wearing a suit and tie, reflecting his professional demeanor.

Hana

Hana is Asterios' ex-wife. She is an artist and works as a sculptor. Hana has a petite frame and long, flowing hair. Her artistic nature is reflected in her bohemian style of clothing, often wearing colorful and flowing garments.

Ursula Major

Ursula Major is Asterios' deceased twin brother. Although no longer alive, Ursula's presence lingers throughout the story, representing Asterios' internal conflicts and unresolved issues from his past. Ursula is described as physically identical to Asterios, but with a more carefree and adventurous personality.

Stiffy

Stiffy is Asterios' childhood friend. He is a mechanic and is often seen wearing grease-stained overalls. Stiffy is described as a burly and rugged man with a friendly and jovial demeanor.

Ignazio

Ignazio is Asterios' estranged father. He is a former jazz musician and is portrayed as a free-spirited and eccentric individual. Ignazio has a disheveled appearance, often wearing mismatched clothes and a scruffy beard.

Hanna

Hanna is Ignazio's girlfriend. She is a younger woman who shares Ignazio's bohemian lifestyle. Hanna is described as having long, flowing hair and a carefree demeanor. She often dresses in colorful and eclectic clothing.

David Smith

David Smith is Asterios' former student. He is an aspiring architect who admires Asterios' work. David is depicted as a young and eager individual with a clean-cut appearance.

Ursula

Ursula is David Smith's sister. She is a talented pianist and plays a significant role in David's life. Ursula is described as graceful and refined, with an air of elegance.

Character Traits

Asterios Polyp

Asterios is intelligent, analytical, and often overly rational. He is driven by his desire for perfection and seeks validation through his architectural success. Asterios can be arrogant and self-centered, often dismissing others' opinions. However, he also possesses a creative and artistic side that emerges when he lets go of his rigid beliefs.

Hana

Hana is passionate, expressive, and emotionally intuitive. She is in touch with her emotions and embraces the imperfections in life. Hana is compassionate and caring, often providing a counterbalance to Asterios' analytical nature.

Ursula Major

Ursula represents Asterios' suppressed desires and emotions. He is portrayed as carefree, adventurous, and willing to take risks. Ursula embodies Asterios' longing for a more spontaneous and passionate existence.

Stiffy

Stiffy is loyal, supportive, and down-to-earth. He serves as a grounding force for Asterios, reminding him of his humble beginnings and the importance of human connection.

Ignazio

Ignazio is eccentric, free-spirited, and unconventional. He embodies the opposite of Asterios' rationality, encouraging him to embrace the unpredictable and find joy in the present moment.

Hanna

Hanna shares Ignazio's bohemian spirit. She is carefree, open-minded, and embraces a non-traditional lifestyle. Hanna encourages Asterios to let go of societal expectations and live authentically.

David Smith

David is ambitious, eager, and idealistic. He looks up to Asterios and strives to achieve greatness in his architectural career. David represents the younger version of Asterios, full of potential and dreams.

Ursula

Ursula is refined, elegant, and talented. She brings a sense of grace and sophistication to David's life. Ursula's presence highlights the importance of pursuing one's passions and finding beauty in the world.

Character Background

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp grew up in a working-class family and developed a passion for architecture at a young age. He studied architecture in college and quickly gained recognition for his innovative designs. Despite his success, Asterios struggles with personal relationships, leading to the dissolution of his marriage to Hana.

Hana

Hana comes from a creative background and pursued a career as a sculptor. She met Asterios during their college years and was initially drawn to his intelligence and ambition. However, their relationship became strained due to Asterios' lack of emotional connection and his focus on his career.

Ursula Major

Ursula Major was Asterios' twin brother who died at birth. His absence has a profound impact on Asterios, symbolizing the loss and emptiness he carries within himself.

Stiffy

Stiffy and Asterios grew up together in the same neighborhood. Stiffy chose a different path from Asterios, becoming a mechanic instead of pursuing a professional career. Despite their differences, Stiffy remains a loyal friend to Asterios, providing a sense of grounding and reminding him of his roots.

Ignazio

Ignazio is Asterios' estranged father. He abandoned Asterios and his mother when Asterios was a young child. Ignazio's unconventional lifestyle and artistic pursuits have influenced Asterios' worldview, although their relationship remains strained.

Hanna

Hanna is Ignazio's girlfriend, who shares his bohemian lifestyle. She enters Asterios' life during a period of self-reflection and encourages him to embrace a different way of living.

David Smith

David Smith is one of Asterios' former students who becomes an architect himself. He idolizes Asterios and seeks his guidance and approval. David's admiration for Asterios fuels his ambition and drives him to succeed.

Ursula

Ursula is David Smith's sister and a talented pianist. She forms a connection with Asterios and becomes a catalyst for his personal growth and transformation.

Character Arcs

Asterios Polyp

Asterios undergoes a significant character arc throughout the book. Initially, he is portrayed as a highly rational and detached individual, consumed by his professional success. However, as the story unfolds, Asterios confronts his past, reconciles with his emotions, and learns to embrace imperfections. He experiences a shift in perspective, recognizing the value of human connection and personal growth.

Hana

Hana's character arc revolves around her journey of self-discovery and healing. She starts as a wounded and resentful ex-wife, but as the story progresses, she finds her artistic voice and learns to let go of past grievances. Hana develops a greater sense of self-worth and finds inner peace.

David Smith

David's character arc centers around his transition from an idealistic student to a mature architect. Under Asterios' guidance, David learns to balance his ambition with a deeper understanding of the complexities of life and architecture. He gains a sense of self-assurance and confidence in his own abilities.

Relationships

Asterios' relationships play a crucial role in shaping his character and driving the narrative of the book. His relationship with Hana highlights the challenges of emotional connection and the consequences of neglecting personal relationships for professional success. The presence of Ursula Major, Asterios' deceased twin, serves as a constant reminder of the unresolved conflicts and the need for self-reflection.

Stiffy represents a connection to Asterios' past and serves as a grounding force in his life. Stiffy's unwavering loyalty and down-to-earth nature provide a contrast to Asterios' analytical mindset.

The relationship between Asterios and his father, Ignazio, is strained due to Ignazio's abandonment. However, their interactions force Asterios to confront his unresolved emotions and reevaluate his perspective on life.

The introduction of Hanna and David Smith into Asterios' life prompts him to question his beliefs and embrace new perspectives. These relationships serve as catalysts for his personal growth and transformation.

In conclusion, "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzucchelli presents a rich cast of characters that interact with the protagonist, Asterios, and drive the narrative forward. Each character contributes to Asterios' development and personal journey, highlighting the complexities of human relationships and the potential for growth and transformation.