Thomas Dekker and
THE HONEST WHORE,
PART ONE, or
THE CONVERTED COURTESAN, PART ONE
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Anselmo is a friar at Bethlem Monastery who agrees, despite his fear of the Duke, to marry Hippolyto and Infelice secretly. When he hears that the Duke is on the way to the Monastery, he marries the two at once and disguises both of them as well as Matheo as friars. After requesting that they remove their weapons, he shows the Duke the madmen who are kept at the Monastery and explains how they went mad. When Hippolyto, Infelice and Matheo enter dressed as friars, he tries to sneak them past the Duke, but the apparently mad Bellafront discovers their ruse. Anselm then explains that through this marriage he hopes to end the feud between the two families and pleads successfully with the Duke to accept the marriage and end the feud. When Viola enters seeking her husband, Anselmo brings in Candido.
Bellafront is the honest whore of the title. She was seduced by Matheo and, when he refused to marry her, became a successful prostitute. She first appears preparing for company with the help of her servant Roger, joking with him about their trade. With Roger, she extracts money from Fluello and then Castruchio by pretending to be angry when he apparently spills the wine. She falls in love with the grieving Hippolyto, who is brought to her place by Matheo, but he rejects her love and denounces her profession furiously and at length. She is converted by his words and decides to become "honest." She attempts to convince her bawd, Mistress Fingerlock, and Roger to give up prostitution and quarrels with them when they refuse. When Matheo, Castruchio, Fluello and Pioratto come to find out why she did not meet them for dinner, she urges them to give up prostitutes. She asks Matheo to marry her in recompense for taking her virginity, but he refuses. She next goes to visit Hippolyto, disguised as Matheo's page, but when Hippolyto discovers that she is a woman, he is furious that his self-imposed retirement has been breached. When he rejects her again, she decides to leave the city and return to her father. Instead, she ends up at the Bethlem Monastery, apparently mad, and there reveals that the three friars are Hippolyto, Infelice and Matheo in disguise. After the Duke is reconciled to the marriage of Hippolyto and Infelice, Bellafront petitions him to require Matheo to marry her, which he does. Matheo swears he will marry her when she is sane again, at which point she reveals that she has only pretended to be mad in hopes of winning Hippolyto.
Candido is a linen-draper and the husband of Viola. He is renowned as a man of unshakeable patience, a trait that is constantly tested throughout the play. Castruchio lays a bet with Pioratto that he can make Candido lose his temper. He is tested in several ways:
After he is gone, Viola has a change of heart and petitions the Duke for his release. At Bethlem Monastery, after the Duke is reconciled to Hippolyto, Viola pleads again for Candido's release. He is brought forward and proves still to be patient. He lectures the Duke and Viola on patience; Viola begs forgiveness and the Duke declares that wives who vex meek husbands shall be committed to Bedlem.
- Castruchio and Pioratto along with Fluello visit his shop, and Castruchio asks for a pennyworth of lawn cut out of the center of the middle of the cloth. However, Candido cheerfully does as requested. Candido then offers a drink to the gentlemen to express his content with his sale.
- Fluello next tells him that he intends to steal his silver and gilt beaker. When he does so, Candido sends George after the constable, but tells him to pursue the men mildly because it is all a jest. When the constable brings back Fluello, Castruchio and Pioratto, they try to get Candido to admit that he is angry, but he denies it and invites them and the constable to eat dinner with him.
- The next test to his patience has been previously arranged by his wife Viola with her brother Fustigo. He enters the shop, calls Viola "cousin" which is slang for mistress, kisses her and pulls her ring off her finger. George and the two Apprentices distract Candido, insult and then beat Fustigo, at which point Fustigo reveals that he is Viola's brother and that they were playing a trick on Candido.
- When Viola will not give the key to the chest where Candido's gown is kept, he has George cut a hole in a carpet and wears that to the Senate house.
- He returns from the Senate meeting to find George dressed in his clothes and pretending to be him. Rather than be angered, Candido dresses as an apprentice.
- The change in clothes causes George to be attacked by Crambo and Poh, rather than Candido, but Candido forces George and the Apprentices to return their weapons and let them go.
- At this point, Viola convinces the Officers that Candido is mad and has him restrained and taken to Bethlem Monastery. Even this does not move him to anger.
Castruchio is a gallant, one of the followers of the Duke, and seems to be the one most closely allied to him. He is part of the mock funeral procession the Duke stages to convince Hippolyto that Infelice is dead. Later, he describes Candido's patience to Pioratto and Fluello, and proposes that they attempt to anger him, wagering one hundred ducats with Pioratto that he can move Candido to anger. At the shop, he demands a pennyworth of lawn cut from the middle of the cloth, but this fails to anger Candido and so Castruchio loses the bet. He is further amazed when Candido is not upset at the theft of his silver and gilt beaker. When he and the others go to visit Bellafront, he and Fluello argue over who will pay for the wine Roger is sent to fetch, but in the end both are gulled by the trickery of Roger who pretends to spill the wine. When all three return to Bellafront's to find out why she did not come to dinner, and are lectured by her to give up prostitutes. Castruchio stops a fight between Matheo and Fluello over whether or not Bellafront is serious. Castruchio, Pioratto and Fluello enter with the Duke when he meets with the Doctor, but they are immediately dismissed. When Matheo tells Castruchio that Infelice is still alive and planning to marry Hippolyto that day, he swears to keep silent, but immediately goes to tell the Duke. At the Monastery, he asks Anselmo if they may see some of the madmen in order to explain their presence there. With the others, he asks the Duke to accept the marriage and is pleased when the Duke does so.
A "ghost character." The Constable is called up by George, on Candido's orders, quietly and calmly to retrieve the silver and gilt beaker that Fluello has taken from Candido's shop. George reports that the Constable has successfully brought the beaker and all three gallants back to the shop, at which point Candido invites the three and the Constable to dinner.
Crambo is a corporal who, along with Poh, is hired by Fustigo to take revenge for the beating George administered to Fustigo. Because Candido has dressed in the clothes of an apprentice and George is wearing Candido's clothes, they pick the wrong man. Crambo is the more aggressive of the two, declaring he does not care if he lie in Limbo or hell, he won't wait until the master is out of the shop. He is the only one who actually strikes Candido, and then both are disarmed by George and the Second Apprentice, but released by Candido.
The Doctor provides a potion to the Duke to drug his daughter, Infelice, so that she will appear to have died, and, with the Duke and his servants, he watches Infelice wake. He backs up the Duke's lie that she fainted and became ill when brought news of Hippolyto's death and agrees that she should retire to Bergamo. When the Duke wishes that Hippolyto really were dead, the Doctor offers to poison him, and the Duke promises to leave him half his goods. The Doctor tells the Duke that he has successfully poisoned Hippolyto, although he has not, and the Duke rejects him, stating that although great men love treason, they hate the traitor. At this, the Doctor turns against the Duke, and tells Hippolyto that Infelice is still alive, and arranges for them to be secretly married by Anselmo at Bethlem Monastery.
The Doctor's Man enters to tell the Doctor that Hippolyto has been waiting to meet the Doctor for an hour and is cold.
DUKE OF MILAN
The Duke of Milan, given name Gasparo Trebatzi, refuses to allow his daughter Infelice to marry her beloved Hippolyto because Hippolyto's family is locked in a feud with the Duke's. Instead, he drugs her and stages a mock funeral to convince Hippolyto that Infelice is dead. When Infelice awakes, he convinces her that she fainted and became ill when she heard news of Hippolyto's death, and suggests she retire to Bergamo. When the Duke wishes that Hippolyto really were dead, the Doctor offers to poison him, and the Duke promises to leave him half his goods. The Doctor tells the Duke that he has successfully poisoned Hippolyto, although he has not, and the Duke rejects him, stating that although great men love treason, they hate the traitor. The Duke is in the act of preparing a warrant for Viola to release her husband, Candido, from the madhouse, when he learns that Hippolyto is alive and planning to marry Infelice at Bethlem Monastery that night. He immediately dismisses Viola and sets out there, ordering his followers each to approach the place separately, as if they only came to visit the madmen. He and the others are greeted by the Sweeper, who describes the inmates, and then Anselmo, who shows them three madmen, the first of whom mistakes the Duke for his second son. When Bellafront reveals that the three friars are actually Hippolyto, Infelice and Matheo in disguise, the Duke at first orders his followers to draw their weapons, but through the pleading of Hippolyto, Anselmo and Fluello, he is reconciled to the marriage. Viola then appears and asks for her husband's release. The Duke sends for Candido and after questioning him, he is convinced that Candido is not only sane, but is an example to all men and women.
One of Candido's apprentices. The First Apprentice is less vocal and active than the Second Apprentice. He mocks Viola for calling herself patient, but does not speak singly again while Castruchio, Fluello and Pioratto are in the shop. After Candido is distracted, the First Apprentice threatens Fustigo, along with George and the Second Apprentice, although he is the only one who keeps up the pretense that the apprentices are talking about the fabrics to a customer. He has no lines in the scene where Crambo and Poh beat Candido mistaking him for George, but he exits and reenters with Viola when she goes to fetch the Officers to take Candido to the madhouse.
The First Madman was a wealthy citizen who went mad from losses at sea and now wears only a fishing net and rants about being unable to catch anything. Anselmo instructs the Duke to question the First Madman alone because he will not speak in Anselmo's presence unless very angry. When questioned, the First Madman, accuses Pioratto of being his eldest son, whom he says is a fool, and claims that the Duke is his second son. He then accuses all of them of being the pirates who undid him, forcing Anselmo to step forward and order him restrained.
FIRST MADMAN'S ELDEST SON
A "ghost character." The First Madman mistakes Pioratto for his eldest son. He calls this son a fool with crooked legs, a verjuice face and a pear-colored beard. The eldest son was or is a scholar.
FIRST MADMAN'S SECOND SON
A "ghost character." The First Madman mistakes the Duke for his second son and asks him to kneel and ask for blessing. The Second Son is notable for monstrous short hair and abominable long nails, and his father made him a promoter.
One of the Duke's servants who, with the Duke, watches Infelice wake and, possibly, plays music to help her revive. He swears he will speak Greek before he will reveal that Infelice is not dead.
After the marriage of Hippolyto and Infelice, the two of them and Matheo disguise themselves as friars in attempt to escape the madhouse unseen by the Duke. An apparently mad Bellafront unmasks them before the Duke and his followers.
Fluello is a gallant, one of the Duke's men, but apparently closer to Matheo and possibly Hippolyto than any of the others. He is part of the mock funeral procession the Duke stages to convince Hippolyto that Infelice is dead. Later, he agrees to attempt to make Candido angry. After Castruchio loses his bet that he can anger Candido, Fluello continues the charade by announcing that he is going to take Candido's silver and gilt beaker, which he does. The Constable forces him and the others to return to the shop and surrender the beaker. When he and the others go to visit Bellafront, Castruchio and Fluello argue over who will pay for the wine Roger is sent to fetch, but in the end both are gulled by the trickery of Roger pretending to spill the wine. When all three return to Bellafront's to find out why she did not come to dinner, and are in turn lectured by her, Castruchio stops a fight between Matheo and Fluello. The fight is over whether or not Bellafront is serious when she tells them to give up prostitutes. Castruchio, Pioratto and Fluello enter briefly with the Duke when he meets with the Doctor, but they are immediately dismissed. When Castruchio tells the Duke of Hippolyto's plan to marry Infelice at the Monastery, Fluello rides ahead to warn them and Matheo of the Duke's imminent arrival, and then joins the Duke when he arrives. With the others, he pleads with the Duke to accept the marriage and is overjoyed when he does.
Fustigo is Viola's brother and a braggart. He has been at sea and lost all his money (apparently not for the first time). He wants to borrow money from Viola, and she agrees but wants him to help her test her husband, Candido's, patience. He agrees to come to the shop and, without revealing that he is her brother, address her with familiarity, kiss her and take her jewelry. Fustigo adds the detail of calling her "cousin" and "coz" which is slang for "lover." Fustigo carries off the plan, but his outrageous behavior does not upset Candido. It does, however, anger George and the Two Apprentices, who distract Candido and beat Fustigo until he bleeds. It is only then that he reveals that he is Viola's brother and describes the plan to try Candido's patience. Candido considers that the jest has been played against Fustigo and not himself. Fustigo then hires Crambo and Poh to take revenge on George, but they accidentally end up attacking the disguised Candido.
This is the given name of the Duke of Milan, unused in the body of the play and given only in the first two entrances of the Duke.
George is the head apprentice at Candido's linen-draper shop. Unlike his master, he is quick to anger when he thinks Candido is being taken advantage of. He becomes angry with Castruchio, Fluello and Pioratto when they pretend to be displeased with the quality of lawn they are shown. After Candido sells them a pennyworth of lawn (cut from the center of the material), Candido sends George to bring wine for a toast. George returns with a silver and gilt beaker that Fluello openly steals. George is sent after the constable and returns to say that the constable has brought them back to the shop. With the Two Apprentices, George threatens and then beats Fustigo when he attempts to move Candido to anger. When Viola will not later give over the key to the chest, George helps Candido dress in a carpet to go to the Senate House, and then, on Viola's persuasion, agrees to dress as Candido to mock him. While he is dressed as Candido and Candido as an apprentice, Crambo and Poh attack Candido, believing that he is George. After Candido has been sent to the madhouse, George travels with Viola to the Duke and then to Bethlem Monastery to sue for his release.
Hippolyto is the beloved of Infelice, but, because his family is in a feud with the Duke's family, the Duke refuses to allow them to be married and instead stages Infelice's apparent death. Hippolyto enters during the fake funeral procession and accuses the Duke of murder; Matheo must hold him back from attacking the Duke. When he is convinced that Infelice is dead, he swears to hold Monday (the day she supposedly died) sacred and not look at another woman that day. Matheo brings him, still grieving, to Bellafront's house, but he leaves as soon as he realizes that Bellafront is a prostitute. He returns looking for Matheo, and when Bellafront confesses that she has fallen in love with him and will be faithful to him if he will support her, Hippolyto bursts into an impassioned and lengthy attack on prostitution and prostitutes. So fiery and convincing is his tirade that he instantly converts Bellafront to an honest way of life. The next Monday, he is in his study with a skull and a portrait of Infelice, contemplating both and thinking about the nature of death. Bellafront interrupts him, but he does not recognize her because she is disguised as Matheo's page. When it is revealed that she is a woman, Hippolyto is again appalled and again denounces her. He later discovers from the Doctor that not only is Infelice alive but that the Duke has made her believe that Hippolyto is dead, and, further, that the Duke has attempted to persuade the Doctor to poison Hippolyto. The Doctor arranges for Hippolyto to meet Infelice at Bethlem Monastery, which he does. They are secretly married by Anselmo, who attempts to sneak them out of the monastery dressed as friars. Their plan fails when they are discovered by Bellafront. When the Duke draws his weapon, Hippolyto points out that he is now the Duke's son and that Infelice is his by marriage, persuading the Duke (with help from the others) to end the feud.
Infelice is the beloved of Hippolyto and the daughter of the Duke, who is adamantly opposed to their marriage. Her father and the Doctor drug her and then pretend that she has died. When she awakes, they tell her that she fainted and became ill almost to death when a messenger brought news of Hippolyto's death. Although she has no memory of the news, she believes her father and agrees to travel to Bergamo. After the Doctor undeceives both she and Hippolyto he helps arrange their elopement. She meets Hippolyto at Bethlem Monastery where Anselmo can secretly marry them. Along with Hippolyto and Matheo, she attempts to sneak past the Duke dressed as a friar, but Bellafront discovers them. Interestingly, she does not speak at all in the last scene, neither responding to Bellafront's veiled taunts nor pleading for mercy from her father. Her father does, however, relent, and all ends happily for her.
Matheo is the best friend of Hippolyto but of an entirely different character. He restrains Hippolyto from attacking the Duke at Infelice's supposed funeral. Later, when Hippolyto swears he will keep Monday sacred to her memory, Matheo responds that on he hopes Tuesday morning will find Hippolyto in the arms of a woman. In that vein, he takes Hippolyto to see Bellafront, a prostitute whom Matheo deflowered. He talks Bellafront into having dinner with him and the other men and when, after her conversion, she does not appear, he and the others go to her house to find out why. Matheo is convinced that her lecture on the evils of prostitution is a joke on her part, and stays behind when the others angrily depart. Even when Bellafront tells him to leave and that she hates him for taking her virginity, Matheo continues to believe it is only a joke. He is not convinced of her sincerity until she asks him to marry her for recompense. Then he becomes furious and leaves. When he learns from Hippolyto that Infelice is alive and they plan to marry, Matheo swears secrecy, but he does tell Castruchio, who immediately tells the Duke. Fluello arrives early at the Monastery to warn them that the Duke is coming, and Matheo is amazed that Castruchio broke his word, although, as Hippolyto points out, he had done the same. After the Duke is reconciled to the marriage, Bellafront, apparently mad, tells the Duke that Matheo took her virginity, and the Duke demands that Matheo marry her. Matheo objects that he cannot marry a mad woman, but agrees to marry her if ever she regain her sanity. At that point she reveals that she is not mad. Matheo is at first upset, but he then accepts the match.
The disguise taken on by Bellafront so that she will be admitted to see Hippolyto.
Mistress Fingerlock is a bawd. She visits Bellafront to tell her that there is a new gentleman waiting at her house. When Bellafront (who has given up prostitution because of Hippolyto's objections) fires Roger, Mistress Fingerlock takes him on.
One of several Officers, but the only one given lines. He first appears after George and the Apprentices have beaten Fustigo. He arrives not to arrest anyone but only to tell Candido that he is needed at the Senate House. After Candido dresses as an apprentice, Viola fetches the Officer, telling him that Candido is mad and that she fears for her safety. He engages Candido in conversation while the other Officers seize him from behind.
Non-speaking characters. An unspecified number of Officers (but at least two) accompany the speaking Officer to take Candido to Bethlem Monastery. They sneak up behind Candido while he is talking to the Officer and seize him from behind.
Pioratto is a gallant, one of the Duke's men. He is part of the counterfeit funeral procession the Duke stages to convince Hippolyto that Infelice is dead. Later, he agrees to try to make Candido angry, wagering one hundred ducats with Castruchio that the latter can not move Candido; it is a bet he wins. He visits Bellafront with the others and returns to find out why she did not appear for dinner, but he says little on either occasion except to comment bitterly on women's deceit. Castruchio, Pioratto and Fluello enter briefly with the Duke when he meets with the Doctor, but they are immediately dismissed. When Viola and George seek the Duke for a warrant freeing Candido from the madhouse, they meet Pioratto who tells them that the Duke is coming. Pioratto travels with the Duke to Bethlem Monastery to stop the marriage of Hippolyto and Infelice. While there, the First Madman mistakes him for his eldest son, the scoundrel. He joins with the others at play's end to ask the Duke to accept the marriage of Hippolyto and Infelice and is pleased when the Duke does so.
Poh is a lieutenant, who (along with Crambo) Fustigo hires to take revenge for the beating George administered to Fustigo. Unfortunately, because Candido has dressed in the clothes of an apprentice and George is wearing Candido's clothes, they beat the wrong man. Poh is the more cautious of the two, arguing they should not attack while the master is in the shop, and he does not actually hit Candido. They are both disarmed by George and the Second Apprentice, but then forgiven and dismissed by Candido.
The Porter brings Viola to Fustigo and is paid for it. When Fustigo assures the Porter that he has not been a bawd in arranging the meeting, because Viola is his sister, the Porter responds that he does not care because better men than porters are go-betweens.
Roger is Bellafront's servant and pander. His relationship with Bellafront before her conversion is casual; they joke about her trade and together pretend that Roger has spilled wine in order to extract extra money from Castruchio. After Bellafront becomes honest, Roger tells Mistress Fingerlock of Bellafront's change in behavior. When Bellafront fires him, he goes to work for Mistress Fingerlock.
One of Candido's loyal apprentices. He is the more active and aggressive of the two. When Castruchio demands a pennyworth of cloth, the Second Apprentice objects, along with Viola, to such a small sale. When Fustigo swaggers and takes wares, the Second Apprentice proposes a plan to repay Fustigo. George is to distract Candido by claiming Signor Pandulfo desires a meeting while he deals with Fustigo. He not only threatens Fustigo, but he also tells Viola she should blush for shame for trying to vex their master. When George is dressed in Candido's clothes, Viola warns the apprentices not to react, and the Second Apprentice claims that no one can make him laugh, no matter how funny. He waits on Crambo and Poh, and then helps George to disarm them when they attack Candido.
A married man who went insane from jealousy, despite doubts from others that his wife ever cheated on him. He rails against the shoemaker, the tailor, the doctor and the schoolmaster who all, in his mind, slept with his wife. He attacks the Second Madman, which causes Anselmo to call for the Attendants to bring whips to control them. When the Third Madman declares himself to be dead, the Second Madman promises to answer for it in the courts if his wife is burnt for adultery at the same time.
SECOND MADMAN'S WIFE
A "ghost character". The Second Madman says that fear of her adultery is the reason for his madness.
One of the Duke's servants who, with the Duke, watches Infelice wake and, possibly, plays music to help her revive. He informs the Duke that she is waking and later swears he will speak Welsh (which he claims is harder than Greek) before he will reveal that Infelice is not dead.
SERVANT OF HIPPOLYTO
A comic character that is supposed to guard Hippolyto's door each Monday and make sure no women enter. He enters to tell Hippolyto that Matheo's page is here with a message. When it is discovered that the page is actually the reformed prostitute Bellafront, the Servant protests the idea that he is damned for letting her in and tries to thrust her out of the room. When the Doctor's man knocks at the door, the Servant will not let him in for fear that he is also a woman despite his beard.
A "ghost character." A merchant of Candido's acquaintance whom the Second Apprentice falsely reports wishes a conference with Candido. It is only a ruse, however, to remove Candido from the shop while the apprentices deal sharply with Fustigo, who is misbehaving.
A shadow character, a gallant and follower of the Duke. He is an almost mute character, having only one individual line in which, at the Bethlem Monastery, he suggests to the Sweeper that the madhouse should have women as well as men. Sinezi does not appear on stage without the Duke, appearing in only the first scene, the scene where the Duke is told that Hippolyto and Infelice are together and in the final scene at the Monastery.
The Sweeper was once an inmate of the Bethlem Monastery, but now he cleans the rooms and buys chains and rods for controlling the madmen. He talks with the Duke and his followers, claiming that if all the mad people in Milan came to the Monastery, there would be only ten men left in the city, and that they have all types at the Monastery. He also discourses on how long it takes for a madman to become sane again, claiming that both a whore and a puritan will never regain their sanity.
According to Anselmo, the Third Madman loved a maiden who died, and he became mad when she was buried. He keeps demanding that the Second Madman give him porridge and goads the Second Madman into attacking him, which causes Anselmo to call for the Attendants to bring whips to control them. He then declares himself to be dead and asks that the bells be rung for him and that he be buried in a good pit-hole.
THIRD MADMAN'S LOVE
A "ghost character". This maiden's death and burial drove the Third madman insane according to Anselmo.
Viola is the wife of Candido and finds that she is desperate to make her phlegmatic husband lose his temper. She meets with her brother, Fustigo, and asks him to come to her shop. There he is to swagger, be overly familiar with her and snatch her jewelry away (but to be sure to return it later). When Castruchio, Fluello and Pioratto come to the shop to try to make Candido lose his temper, Viola is furious that he calmly cuts a pennyworth of lawn from the middle of the cloth and allows their silver and gilt beaker to be taken. When Fustigo's ploy fails, her next attempt to try her husband's patience is to refuse George the key to the cabinet thereby denying Candido his senate gown. When this fails, she persuades George to dress himself in Candido's clothes so as to provide a mirror for his actions. This also fails, and Viola then declares to the Officers that Candido is mad and has him arrested. However, once he is taken, she has a change of heart and, with George, appears before the Duke to request a warrant to have him freed. The Duke is on the verge of giving it to her when he learns of Infelice's elopement to the Monastery and orders Viola to leave. She and George travel to the Monastery and there persuade the Duke to free Candido. Viola begs Candido's forgiveness on her knees and promises to vex him no more.