Rudolf Elphberg is one of the central character of the novel entitled The Prisoner of Zenda created by Anthony Hope. He is the prisoner in the castle of Zenda. He is son of late king of Ruritania and heir to throne.
Rudolf Elphberg is a young, tall and handsome man. He is an educated man. He has red hair, straight nose, blue eyes and a beard. His physical appearance bears striking resemblance to that of Rudolf Rassendyll, though there were some points of differences, which are pointed by Rudolf Rassendyll:
“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.”
Lack of Responsibility and Common Sense
Rudolf Elphberg, the king is a happy-go-lucky type of young man. He is a pleasure loving man and wishes to pass a happy and care free life. He is devoid of a sense of responsibility and lacks even common sense. He is indiscreet and trusts even his half brother, Black Michael. He does not care even the coronation and drinks excessively. He also drinks the wine sent by his wicked brother. He does not even think or suspect about it. It is well known to the people of Ruritania that Black Michael intends to get through the access to the throne and wants to marry Flavia, but Elphberg is not aware of this fact.
A Weak Man
He has not the quality to face the dangers and odds boldly. His behaviour in prison throws a shadow upon his person. He becomes completely demoralized and losses all gril. His health suffers and he becomes partially insane. He requests Detchard to persuade his brother, Black Michael to kill him. He becomes hopeless and sobs on his fate.
Not a Bad Man
Rudolf Elphberg cannot, however, be called a bad man. He may be a weak king, but as a man, he has some very good qualities. He is a pleasant tempered man, a sincere and good friend. He stands by his friends and has a great trust and faith in them. There is in him a peculiar charm of personality, which inspires confidence in the heart of those who come into contact with him. He loves and admires Flavia. He is sincere, kind and open-hearted.
Although he remains captive throughout the novel and we cannot see him in action, but the whole story revolves round him. He attracts our attention in the forest as a charming and gay person. He reigns in the readers mind although remains behind the scene.