Rudolf Rassendyll is the hero and central character of the novel entitled The Prisoner of Zenda, written by Anthony Hope. The integral character of Rassendyll holds the attention of the readers throughout the exciting events of the novel. Rassendyll possesses a prime personality and is linked with the main incidents of the novel in one way or the other.
Various Aspects of His Role
Rudolf Rassendyll is a tall, young and handsome man, who belongs to a noble family in England. He is an educated man of twenty-nine, who has perfect command over German and French. He is bold, cultural and knows the art of becoming popular. He has red hair, straight nose, blue eyes and a beard. His physical appearance bears striking resemblance to that of the real king, though there were some points of differences. Rassendyll himself pointed out:
“The king’s face was slightly more fleshy than mine, the oval of its contour the least trifle more pronounced and his mouth lacking something of the firmness which was to be gathered from my close-shutting lips.”
However, in spite of these differences, Colonel Sapt could not help mentioning to Rassendyll:
“You’re an Elphberg, every inch of you.”
Rudolf Rassendyll is very fond of adventures and loves to roam about instead of sticking to a job. He is also a good mastermind who handles difficult situations seeming effortless. The desire to participate in sensational events is always there in his heart. This desire was fulfilled by his play-acting of King Rudolf Elphberg, who was very identical to him. His likeness with the king of Ruritania helped him to make his mission a success. He pledges in strong and unequivocal terms: “I have been an imposter for the profit of another, but I will not be one for my own; and if the king is not alive and on his throne before the day of betrothal comes I will tell the truth, come what may.”
Wisdom and Prudence
Rudolf Rassendyll proves himself to be a man of outstanding attributes and full of wisdom. He plays the role of the king very intelligently. Once he gets entangled in Ruritanian politics, he becomes conscious not only of the significance of his royal position but also of the responsibility, which lies on his shoulders. He is a wise, cool minded and responsible man.
Faithfulness and Sincerity
Rudolf Rassendyll is a sincere man. He does not want to keep the throne to himself. He carries out all his responsibilities with firmness and confidence. He realizes that it is his duty to restore the real king to the throne and he never tries to take undue advantage as a pretender. His veracity and sincerity is outstanding as he declares:
“If I’m found out, I’ ll make a clean breast of it, and fight it out with the Duke.”
Boldness and Courage
Rudolf Rassendyll is supposed to be gifted with extraordinary courage and chivalry, and does not fall short of our expectations in this matter. He is an expert rider and an excellent sword man. When time and fate offered Rassendyll a challenge, he accepted him as a brave man. His stay in Ruritania unfolds his marvelous sense of responsibility, boldness and wisdom. The role played by him in Ruritania to save the throne from Black Michael was really an act of gallantry and wisdom.
The romantic aspect of Rassendyll’s personality shows that his heart throbs for Princess Flavia but the sense of duty and devotion to the throne is far stronger in him. The circumstances urge him to express love to Princess Flavia but bot to feel it. Being deeply conscious of his responsibility and dedication, he declares:
“I had to keep the princess devoted to me and yet indifferent to me; I had to show affection for her and not feel it.”
The Great Sacrifice
In order to maintain peace in Ruritania and not to disgrace the royal family, Rudolf Rassendyll took a sensible and daring step. He sacrificed his love at the altar of duty and left Ruritania with tears of regret in the eyes of Princess Flavia, words of gratitude on the lips of king, applause and appreciation from all the countrymen and feeling of satisfaction on his own part.
“There is no moral authority like that of sacrifice.”
- Nadine Gordimer