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Written by Rachael Kennedy
Galileo is the protagonist of the play, who strives to prove the Ptolemaic system of astronomy throughout the play. This theory claims that the Earth, and the other planets, revolve around the sun. This contradicted the popularly accepted theory of the time, the Copernician theory, that everything, including the sun and the moon, revolved around the Earth as the center of the universe. Galileo tries to prove his hypothesis, despite opposition from the Church and the Inquisition. He also takes the idea of the telescope, which Ludovico makes him aware of, and presents it to the Republic of Venice. Galileo is gluttonous and has a liking for fine food and the finer things of life.
Galileo eventually recants everything he has ever said regarding his ideas and concepts of the Ptolemaic theory, which disappoints and angers his dedicated and loyal followers. Galileo is then put under the watchful eye of the Inquisition, and is cared for by his daughter Virginia. When Andrea comes to visit, he reveals that he has secretly been writing his theories in his 'Discoursi,' which he gives to Andrea, who smuggles it across the Italian border.
Andrea is Galileo's student, only a young boy at the beginning of the play, and the son of Galileo's housekeeper. He follows Galileo throughout the play and is a dedicated supporter of his work, although he sometimes requires more complicated theories to be explained further to him. Andrea cannot understand why Galileo initially tells him not to share their ideas or hypotheses as they are forbidden. He is passionate about proving the hypothesis of the Ptolemaic system and is confident in his teacher Galileo. He does not believe that Galileo will recant his ideas, and is devastated when he does. He goes on to work in the scientific sector, despite it being controlled by the church and the Inquisition. He visits Galileo, who is old, and discovers that he has been writing his 'Discoursi.' Galileo gives him this document, which he smuggles across the Italian border.
Signora Sarti is Andrea's mother and is also Galileo's housekeeper. She represents the everyday person of the time and is hesitant towards Galileo's ideas, as they conflict with the church. She is opposed to Galileo teaching her son such ideas, and convincing him that they are true, as they are counter-cultural and offend the church. In the opening scene, she is more concerned with paying the milkman than taking in Galileo's ideas.
Ludvico is young and rich, and seeks the teaching of Galileo on account of his mother's desire for him to gain knowledge. He questions Galileo and his theories, but also gives him information about the telescope, which Galileo extorts to an extent. He later becomes engaged to Virginia, Galileo's daughter, but he calls off the marriage because of the controversy surrounding Galileo's work, and Galileo's unwillingness to turn away from it.
She is Galileo's daughter. As one of the few female characters of the play, she is deemed as not smart enough to understand some of Galileo's theories. She is quite melodramatic, praying loudly (almost wailing) that Galileo will recant towards the end of the play. She is utilized in a sort of unknowing way by the Inquisitor, to keep an eye on her father. He will find out about his actions and behavior through Father Christophorus, to whom Virginia makes her confessions. Virginia is very dedicated to the church. Her engagement to Ludovico is called off due to controversy over her father's ideas, and at the end of the play, she takes care of and watches Galileo, under the Inquisitions observation, ensuring he does not offend against them again after recanting his statements.
A friend of Galileo's, who questions him about the place of God in his hypotheses
The Little Monk
A member of the Church, who should oppose Galileo's ideas and remain steady within his beliefs. However, although he does remain true to his faith in God, his scientific and mathematical tendencies cause him to follow Galileo and believe in his theories.
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