William Cartwright
THE ORDINARY, or
THE CITY COZENER

1634–1635

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ANDREW

Andrew is the son of Simon Credulous, a rich citizen who has ruined Sir Thomas Littleworth. He is the pupil to Littleworth's son, who is in disguise as "Meane-well," and is also supposed to be wooing Mrs. Jane Bitefigg. An exceptionally slow-witted character, he is easily fooled into marrying Jane's maid Priscilla instead.

BAG-SHOT

A decayed Clerk, or run-down student, he is a regular at the Ordinary or inn and along with Catchney, Sir Christopher, and Rimewell, spends much time lamenting how bad business is and drinking heavily. All four of them sing outside Andrew's window at his supposed wedding to Jane (really to Priscilla) and are promptly arrested.

CASTER

A gamester at the ordinary. He is the victim or gull, along with Have-at-all, of a confidence trick conducted by Heare-say, Meanewell, and Slicer.

CONSTABLE

Arrests the four clubbers, Bag-shot, Vicar Catchney, Sir Christopher, and Rimewell, for singing and disturbing the peace.

HAVE-AT-ALL

A gamester at the ordinary. Like Caster, he is the victim or gull of a confidence trick conducted by Heare-say, Meanewell, and Slicer.

HEARE-SAY

An intelligencer or spy and also one of the "complices" of the Ordinary. He is a confidence trickster who fools Caster and Have-at-all, the Surgeon and Mercer, and as many others as possible.

JOANE POT-LUCKE

A vintner's widow. Well advanced in years, she is the target of the "complices" individual attentions in exchange for free food and wine and claims each of them as a fiancÚ. Each of them manages a way to get out the relationship and finally palm her off on the antiquary Robert Moth.

LITTLEWORTH

The son of Sir Thomas Littleworth, he hopes to be revenged on Sir Simon for putting his father in prison and to gain the hand of Mrs. Jane. In order to do so, he has taken on the disguise of Meane-well and pretends to be a confidence trickster like Heare-say and Slicer. He arranges to marry Priscilla off to Andrew and to disabuse Sir Thomas of his belief that Shape is really a confessor, among other things, finally throwing off his disguise and his former companions as he has intended to do all along.

MEANEWELL

Littleworth's name while in disguise throughout the play.

MERCER

The victim of a trick with the Surgeon, during which he is fooled out of the price of the substantial bill that the "complices" have run up.

MRS. JANE

The daughter of Sir Thomas Bitefigg. While she is being courted by Andrew, she is in love with Littleworth and proves to be faithful to him after some testing. She marries him at the end of the play.

PRISCILLA

Jane's maid. A very easy young woman, she propositions "Meane-well." Her flirtatious, not to say brazen, proclivities makes her an ideal candidate for marrying off to the foolish Andrew.

RIMEWELL

Like his friends, the "clubbers" Bag-shot, Vicar Catchney, and Sir Christopher, he is down on his luck, convinced that much liquor will pacify his Muse, and like them, he is arrested by the Constable for singing at the window at Andrew's "wedding."

ROBERT MOTH

An antiquary. Because he is devoted to his old books, he is easily fooled into wooing and marrying Joane Pot-lucke. His speech is Chaucerian, sometimes containing actual fragments of Chaucer.

SHAPE

A cheater. One of his deceptions is to disguise himself as a confessor and make Sir Thomas confess to his avarice. His disguise is revealed by Littleworth.

SHOPKEEPER

A shopkeeper.

SIMON CREDULOUS

A citizen, a miser, and the father of Andrew. He has had Sir Thomas Littleworth imprisoned for debt. He has arranged for Andrew to be educated by Meane-well as a politician and diplomat, rather than sending him to Oxford. He hopes to marry Andrew to Mrs. Jane Bitefigg. He is foiled by his son's marriage to Priscilla, which reveals Andrew as a fool.

SIR CHRISTOPHER

A curate, and another of the song and drink loving "clubbers" who is arrested.

SIR THOMAS BITEFIGG

Father to Mrs. Jane. He wishes his daughter to marry Andrew, the son of Simon Credulous, because he is wealthy, but she wishes to marry Littleworth instead. At the end of the play, he confesses his avarice on what he supposes to be his deathbed to a person he supposes to be a confessor (in reality Shape in disguise). He ultimately agrees that Andrew would have been a disastrous son-in-law and agrees to Jane's marriage to Littleworth.

SIR THOMAS LITTLEWORTH

A "ghost character." Littleworth's father, he is in prison for debt and therefore does not appear in the play.

SLICER

One of the "complices," a lieutenant whose military background has given him the training necessary to be a truly efficient cheat. He conspires with Heare-say and "Meane-well" throughout the play.

SURGEON

The victim of a prank by the "complices" Heare-say, Meanewell and Slicer, in which he is instructed to exercise his professional skills on a Mercer to whom they owe money.

VICAR CATCHNEY

A Cathedral singing man. Like the other three "clubbers," Bag-shot, Sir Christopher, and Rimewell, he feels his professional skills would be improved with a good bit more money and drink. Like them, he is arrested by the Constable.

WATCHMEN

The assistants to the Constable and the classic stupid watch as also reflected in Much Ado About Nothing.