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Michelangelo is the protagonist of the novel as the book traces the life of the artist from a thirteen-year-old prodigy, to a ninety- year-old legend. Lorenzo Medici nurtures his talent and encourages him to carve exquisite statues like ‘Madonna and the Child,’ ‘David’ and ‘Hercules.’ As his fame spreads, patrons of art and religious heads of Italy invite him to create marvels in stone. He acquires numerous admirers and some enemies too.
The antagonists are the artists who are jealous of Michelangelo’s talent and try their best to defame him. Torrigiani is among the first of his enemies; while Bramante and Perugino are others who are hostile to him. Torrigiani disfigures the face of Michelangelo, Bramante poisons the mind of the Pope against him and Perugino tries to defame his character.
All his antagonists hurt him physically and mentally and cause hurdles in his artistic career. They hamper his progress as an artist and cause him anguish. A few precious years of his life are wasted and he becomes frustrated.
Michelangelo overcomes the obstacles in his way and gets the better of his adversaries. His friends and admirers also help him to get out of his problems. With his determination and dedication, he establishes himself as the greatest sculptor of Italy and one of the best in the world. The novel ends on a note of hope with Michelangelo expressing satisfaction with his work before he breathes his last.