Character Analysis Hofrat Behrens


The key to an understanding of the head doctor is the name Rhadamanthus, which is the clear-sighted Settembrini's term for him. Rhadamanthus and Minos (Dr. Krokowski is called Minos), in Greek mythology, are the two sons of Zeus and Europa who preside over the realm of the dead.

Behrens presides over the sanatorium, a world from which there is no escape. The little tours the patients go on lead back to the Berghof as surely as the last tour they travel leads to the cemetery. Like his patients, Behrens is but a representative. He has no power over the fate of his patients. All that he can do is determine the length of their respite from death. His jovial approach is deceptive. It merely serves to give his patients the impression as though he were really interested in their recovery. But he is not. He reduces the difference between life and death to a chemical term, pursues his profession for sensual and financial reasons. Appropriately, Behrens' office radiates the sinister atmosphere of a grave; it is located in the basement and is described as a labyrinth.

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