Richard Brome
THE NOVELLA

1632–1633

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ASTUTTA

A servant to Guadagni. She helps Flavia in her love for Francisco by composing a letter informing him that Flavia intends to kill herself if he does not help her escape. She plans to send his letter via the Peddler but is preempted when Francisco arrives dressed as the Peddler. After he reveals himself, she helps hide him. When Guadagni attempts to unlock the press that Francisco is hiding in, she distracts him by dropping a chest of jewelry out the window. When he runs out to fetch it, she locks him out and ushers Flavia and Francisco out the back door to a waiting gondola.

BURGIO

A disguise adopted by Paulo. Also spelled Borgio in the text. The priest Paulo (Victoria's brother) disguises himself as Burgio, a pimp who claims to have worked with six of Venice's most famous prostitutes during the last sixty years. He claims that the secret to earning money is for the prostitute to retain her virginity as long as possible. In this way, she is in greater demand, and he can collect fees from men anxious to gain admittance to the house for the chance to corrupt her. This is Victoria's main plan, to pose as The Novella, a virgin prostitute, and remain chaste while trying to win Fabritio.

CHEQINNO

A lawyer. He represents Guadagni in negotiating the marriage contract between Fabritio and Flavia. After Francisco steals away with Flavia, he advises Guadagni to have the Peddler taken into custody. He accompanies Guadagni to the Novella's lodging.

DUTCHMAN

A disguise. When Pantaloni wishes revenge and plans to discredit the Novella, he arranges to send her "a Dutchman." The disguise was earlier worn by the German Swatzenburgh. This time, however, it is to be the universally loathed hangman, Rastrofico, who will wear the disguise and so ruin her reputation by being seen with her. The plan is foiled, however, when Fabritio (with aid from Nicolo) finds the disguise and wears it. In this guise, Paulo mistakes him for the German Swatzenburgh and tells him of Flavia and Francisco's marriage. He is allowed into the Novella's home, where he reveals himself, and Paulo marries them.

EPILOGUE

The Epilogue encourages the audience to applaud by promising that "if you dislike the play," Brome "has vowed / To write far worse."

FABRITIO

Son to Pantaloni. He is in love with Victoria, but his father has arranged for him to marry Flavia. He is in the process of fleeing to Rome when he encounters Francisco and Horatio. He pledges not to marry Flavia, and the men retire to Horatio's lodgings. After Nicolo informs him of Pantaloni's plan to get revenge on the Novella, he disguises himself in the Dutchman's costume that the hangman should have worn and travels to see the Novella. En route, Paulo mistakes him for Swatzenburgh but informs him that Francisco and Flavia are married and waiting at the Novella's. Once there, he quarrels with the real Swatzenburgh (who is now disguised as an English Factor). Finally, Victoria reveals her identity, Fabritio reveals his, and the two lovers are married by Paulo.

FACTOR, ENGLISH

A disguise adopted by Swatzenburgh. When the German discovers that the Novella means to save herself for a husband, he comes disguised as an English factor with 2,000 ducats to test her honesty. When she refuses the money, he attempts to reveal his identity but is interrupted by Fabritio, who is disguised as "the Dutchman," Swatzenburgh's earlier costume.

FATHER, NICOLO'S

A "ghost character." Pantaloni saved Nicolo's father from the galleys and constantly reminds him of this fact.

FLAVIA

Daughter to Guadagni. She is in love with Francisco, to whom she was contracted, but her father has arranged for her to marry Fabritio. To placate her father, she pretends to acquiesce to his choice and reject Francisco. She announces her true feelings to Francisco when he comes to her disguised as the Peddler, and the two escape in a gondola with the help of Astutta, who distracts Guadagni by tossing a case of jewels from the window. Francisco takes her to the Novella's, where they are secretly married by Paulo.

FRANCISCO

He is of noble birth, but his estate has decayed. He loves Flavia, to whom he was contracted, but she is forced to reject him by her father Guadagni. He disguises himself as the Peddler (who tells him to take Flavia to the Novella's) to gain access to Flavia's chamber. There, he prompts her to confess her love for him and her willingness to kill herself rather than marry Fabritio. The two narrowly escape the house in a gondola with the help of Astutta. At the Novella's, they are married by Paulo.

FRENCHMAN

A disguise adopted by Horatio. He goes to the Novella disguised as a Frenchman and argues that his own qualities are worth the 2,000 ducats she is asking, but she rejects him.

GONDOLIER

A "ghost character." The gondolier waits at the back door to spirit away the lovers Francisco and Flavia while Guadagni retrieves the chest of gold that Astutta dropped from the window to distract him.

GUADAGNI

Father to Flavia. He is a greedy senator and originally agreed to his daughter's marriage to Francisco until Pantaloni offered his son and a sizable jointure. He is short-tempered with his daughter and keeps her confined and guarded by the dwarf Nanulo to ensure that she goes through with the marriage to Fabritio. When he returns from the marriage negotiations, he almost discovers Francisco in the house, but Astutta manages to trick him into chasing after a chest of jewelry that she drops into the street so that she can lock him out and allow the lovers to escape. The Peddler leads him to the Novella's lodging, where he is forced to acknowledge the legality of Flavia and Francisco's marriage.

HANS SWATZENBURGH

A German. He goes to the Novella's lodging with the intention of haggling for her. There, he helps prevent Pedro from raping her. When he learns that she means to save herself for a husband, he leaves. He returns disguised as an English factor with 2,000 ducats to test her honesty. When she refuses the money, he attempts to reveal his identity but is interrupted by Fabritio, who is dressed in Swatzenburgh's Dutchman costume from the previous scene. The two quarrel over which is the real Swatzenburgh, and he leaves to find a Zaffi to vindicate him. When Fabritio's true identity is revealed, Swatzenburgh is pleased with the match and puts aside his animosity.

HORATIO

Friend to Francisco. He and Francisco are looking for the Novella when they encounter Fabritio and Piso. He offers his lodging to the young men and helps them in their plans to regain their true loves. The next day, he goes to the Novella disguised as a Frenchman and argues that his own qualities are worth the 2,000 ducats she is asking, but she rejects him. He returns to the Novella's at the end of the play.

JACCONETTA

Alternative spelling of Jacquenetta.

JACOMO

A eunuch Moor who is given as a servant to Victoria by Fabritio. He disguises as a woman, Jacquenetta, and accompanies Victoria (disguised as the Novella) to Venice. When Pantaloni wins his way into the Novella/Victoria's bed, she pulls a "bed trick" on him by replacing herself with "Jacquenetta." The humiliation of finding the eunuch inspires Pantaloni's revenge upon the Novella.

JACQUENETTA

The name adopted by Jacomo, Victoria's Moorish eunuch, when he disguises himself as a woman to accompany Victoria to Venice. It is "Jacquenetta" who is switched for the Novella/Victoria in the "bed trick" with Pantaloni.

NANULO

A dwarfish servant to Guadagni. He guards Flavia to prevent her from running away with Francisco.

NICOLO

A servant to Pantaloni. Pantaloni saved Nicolo's father from the galleys and constantly reminds him of this fact. Nicolo grows resentful of Pantaloni and conspires to cross him. Pantaloni instructs him to disguise himself as a Zaffi and bribe the hangman to converse with the Novella. Instead, he reveals this plan to Fabritio. Dressed as a Zaffi, he encounters a real Zaffi outside Guadagni's house when Flavia's chest of jewelry is thrown out. The two conspire to split the contents. He returns at the end of the play dressed as a Zaffi to identify Fabritio as the hangman, prompting Fabritio to remove his disguise.

NOVELLA, THE

A guise adopted by Victoria. To travel to Venice, Victoria disguises herself as the Novella, a beautiful virgin prostitute, whose price is set at an exorbitant 2,000 ducats for her maidenhead and one month's company. She is wooed by various men (many in disguise): A Frenchman (Horatio), Dutchman (first Swatzenburgh then Fabritio), English Factor (Swatzenburgh again), Piso, Pedro, Pantaloni, and the like. Pantaloni, believing that he has haggled down her price, creeps into bed with her only to find himself the victim of a "bed trick" and her Moorish eunuch, Jacomo/Jacquenetta, beside him.

PANTALONI

Father to Fabritio. He is identified as a senator and referred to throughout as "Magnifico," but Flavia refers to Fabritio as the son of a tradesman. He is a lustful old man with a reputation for whoring. He believes he has succeeded in haggling the Novella's price down, but she plays a "bed trick" on him, substituting "Jacquenetta" (the eunuch Jacomo in disguise) for herself. To get revenge, he instructs Nicolo to arrange to have the hangman Rastrofico visit her, thus making her a social outcast. He is possessed of great wealth, which he uses to entice Guadagni into arranging a marriage between their children. Returning to Guadagni's house after the marriage negotiations, he is told by Nicolo that Fabritio has run away to Rome. Nicolo also tells him that the hangman will visit the Novella dressed as a Dutchman. He accompanies Guadagni to the Novella's lodgings at the end of the play. When the man in the Dutchman's costume turns out to be Fabritio, Pantaloni is forced to acknowledge the legality of his child's marriage to Victoria.

PAULO

Brother to Victoria. He is a priest who disguises himself as Burgio, a bawd, to secretly accompany his sister to Venice. He secretly marries Francisco to Flavia and then tells their friends to meet them at the Novella's. When Swatzenburgh arrives with 2,000 ducats to test Victoria's honesty, he watches them with a pistol, prepared to kill Victoria if she accepts the money. Before revealing his true identity, he marries Victoria to Fabritio.

PEDDLER

A character and a disguise.
  • A woman from Mercia reputed for selling exquisite trinkets and wares. Pantaloni sends her to Flavia to choose adornments for the wedding. Victoria makes arrangements with her to bring Flavia to "the Novella's" lodging. Francisco borrows a disguise from her, and she tells him of Victoria's plan. When she arrives at Guadagni's house, she is taken into custody. She leads Guadagni to the Novella's lodging at the end of the play.
  • Francisco disguises himself as the Peddler (who tells him to bring Flavia to the Novella's) to gain access to Flavia's chamber. There, he prompts Flavia to confess her love for him and her willingness to kill herself rather than marry Fabritio before revealing himself and escaping with her in a gondola.

PEDRO

A Spaniard. He attempts to rape Victoria while she is disguised as the Novella but is prevented by the arrival of Swatzenburgh.

PISO

Friend to Fabritio. He encourages Fabritio to defy his father's marriage plans. The two are escaping to Rome at the beginning of the play when they encounter Francisco and Horatio. The next day, he haggles with the Novella. She tells him that if in one month she has not found either a husband or someone who will pay the 2,000 ducats, she will sell herself to him at any price he names. He returns to the Novella's at the end of the play.

PROLOGUE

The prologue employs legal metaphors, claiming that the audience must be the jury who determine whether or not Brome deserves the title of "poet."

PROSPERO

A lawyer. He represents Pantaloni in negotiating the marriage contract between Fabritio and Flavia. After Francisco steals away with Flavia, he advises Guadagni on recovering her. He accompanies Guadagni to the Novella's lodging.

RASTROFICO

A "ghost character." Rastrofico is the hangman. His position is so despised in Venice that anyone other than a Zaffi discovered conversing with him immediately becomes a social outcast. In revenge for the humiliating "bed trick," Pantaloni conspires to have the hangman go to the Novella disguised as a Dutchman and be found there to her discredit. The plan misfires with the aid of Nicolo, who tells Fabritio.

VICTORIA

She loves Fabritio and travels from Rome to Venice after him. To facilitate her travels, she disguises herself as the Novella (a new prostitute) but sets the price of her maidenhead too high for anyone to afford–2,000 ducats for one month. Pantaloni bargains her into a corner, and she substitutes her Moorish eunuch Jacomo (disguised as Jacquenetta) in a "bed trick." The trick so infuriates Pantaloni that he vows revenge (a revenge foiled by Nicolo). She makes arrangements with the Peddler to cross the marriage of Fabritio and Flavia. When Francisco becomes aware of these plans, he brings Flavia to her lodgings where she arranges to have the lovers secretly married. When Swatzenburgh appears as and English Factor with 2,000 ducats to test her honesty, she produces a knife and announces that she will kill herself rather than stain her honor. Fabritio (with the aid of Nicolo) reveals himself to her at the end, and the two are married by her brother, the priest Paulo.

ZAFFI

The word is used generically to mean an officer of the law.
  • One is outside Guadagni's window when Flavia's chest of jewelry is thrown out, and he attempts to steal it.
  • It is also a disguise adopted by Nicolo. Pantaloni instructs him to disguise himself as a Zaffi and bribe the loathed hangman Rastrofico to converse with the Novella. Instead, he reveals this plan to Fabritio. Dressed as a Zaffi, he encounters a real Zaffi outside Guadagni's house when Flavia's chest of jewelry is thrown out. The two conspire to split the contents. He returns at the end of the play dressed as a Zaffi to identify Fabritio as the hangman, prompting Fabritio to remove his disguise and marry Victoria/the Novella.