John Fletcher
(revised by Philip Massinger?)

THE ELDER BROTHER

1625(?)

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ANDREW

The loyal, witty, Greek-reading servant of the hapless scholar Charles, Andrew defends his master's devotion to study and helps protect Charles from Brisac and Eustace's efforts to disinherit him. Andrew overhears and reports on Brisac's plot to persuade Charles to sign away his birthright, and also learns of and foils the old man's efforts to seduce Andrew's wife Lilly, threatening to write a ballad, "The Justice Trap," to publicize Brisac's sexual indiscretion. Wounded in the fight between Charles and Eustace, Andrew is also hurt when he attempts to prevent Angellina's kidnapping. Andrew tells Charles and Eustace of the kidnapping and accompanies them as they rescue Angellina and her father Lewis.

ANGELLINA

A virtuous and dutiful 14-year-old, Angellina wants to be married and agrees to abide by her father Lewis's choice of a husband. He is to choose between the two sons of his neighbor, the scholar Charles and the courtier Eustace. Impressed with Eustace's courtly polish, Lewis selects him as the groom, and Angellina agrees to marry him even though she finds the courtier superficial. During a meeting at Lewis's house, at which Charles is to sign over his inheritance to his younger brother, Angellina is confronted by Eustace's uncle Miramont, who excoriates his fashionable nephew, and who later praises Charles and explains his shyness to Angellina. After Charles's studies are interrupted by the noise of the wedding preparations, he abandons his books to take a closer look at Angellina, and promptly falls in love with her. He courts her with an impromptu ode and with several beautifully phrased declarations of his love; recognizing his worth, she accepts his proposal. Angellina explains this decision to her father, calling his judgment into question, and is promptly disowned and ordered to leave the house. She and Charles take refuge with Miramont, and Angellina is alarmed to find that Charles follows her everywhere, contemplating her beauty. In fear for her chastity, she consults her witty maid Sylvia who explains that Charles's innocence and lack of experience renders him harmless. Angellina valiantly resists Eustace's effort to kidnap her and knocks his hat off. After being kidnapped by friends and kinsmen of her father to prevent her marriage to Charles, Angellina tries to pacify her father's rage. When Charles and Eustace, now reconciled, arrive to rescue her, Angellina joins them in trying to persuade Lewis to accept Charles as Angellina's husband. Although Lewis does not give his verbal consent to the marriage, Miramont reads it in his looks, and the marriage will presumably be allowed.

BRISAC

A wealthy justice who is delighted when his neighbor Lewis proposes a marriage between one of Brisac's sons and Lewis's daughter Angellina. Brisac argues bitterly with his brother Miramont about which son is suitable for marriage: the scholarly Charles will be unable to manage Brisac's considerable estates, and Brisace prefers the superficial courtier Eustace. Brisac plots to disinherit Charles by having his inheritance transferred to Eustace, assuring the furious Miramont and Charles's loyal servant Andrew that Charles will always have an income to pay for his books. After arranging an elaborate wedding banquet, Brisac is dismayed that Charles, who has suddenly fallen in love with Angellina, is unwilling to sign the legal documents transferring his inheritance. When Angellina unexpectedly accepts Charles's marriage proposal, Brisac disowns his son, then encourages Eustace and his courtier friends Egremont and Cowsy to recover Angellina. Confronted by Lewis and ordered to deliver Angellina, who has taken refuge with Brisac's brother Miramont, Brisac rages about Angellina's fickleness and, when alone, decides to seek comfort in the arms of Lilly, the wife of Charles's servant Andrew for whom Brisac has purchased a nearby farm. With Andrew and eventually Miramont watching, Brisac has his assignation with Lilly. She allows some flirting and fondling, but refuses to have sex with Brisac, citing his advanced age as her reason. When Brisac threatens to take away the farm, Lilly retorts that she will tell the judge all about it, but then decides to give in to Brisac's importunities in order to avoid a lawsuit. Andrew and Miramont interrupt and humiliate the couple, threatening Brisac with public exposure and loss of his judgeship. Brisac leaves in a fury, cursing everyone. After his house is seized by Lewis, Brisac accompanies his neighbor to Paris in the hope that the King will hear their case. Along the way, Lewis refuses to listen to Brisac's defense. Brisac is eventually rescued by his sons Charles and Eustace, and Miramont persuades Lewis to drop the suit against Brisac.

BUTLER

Brisac's butler Gilbert assists Andrew as he unloads Charles's many crates of books, and is impressed by Charles and Andrew's learning. The butler wonders why Charles is not as friendly as his brother Eustace. Brisac places the butler in charge of the household arrangements for the wedding feast.

CHARLES

A dedicated scholar, Charles is the older of the justice Brisac's two sons. Summoned home when his father and their neighbor Lewis propose a marriage between Lewis's daughter Angellina and one of Brisac's sons, Charles arrives with a large number of books and his witty servant Andrew. Questioned by his father to assess his suitability as a landowner and bridegroom, Charles fails miserably, assuring his father that Virgil is full of farming advice, and that he has learned all he needs to know about women by reading Greek and Roman literature. Confusing Andrew's wife Lilly with the title of his grammar book, and refusing to stop reading, Charles does not make himself welcome in his father's house. Allowing Brisac to persuade him to sign over his inheritance rights to his brother Eustace, despite the warnings issued by his loving uncle Miramont, Charles is content with assurances that he will always be given an allowance to buy books. When the noisy wedding preparations disturb his studies, Charles insists on seeing the bride, and after carefully contemplating Angellina, falls in love with her. Using his extraordinary verbal skills, and composing an ode on the spot, Charles convinces Angellina that he is the worthier brother and that his love for her is genuine and lasting, as is his new found interest in land ownership. Angellina accepts Charles's marriage proposal, and the two of them are immediately disowned by their fathers. Taking refuge with Miramont, Charles follows Angellina around the house obsessively, and wishes to accompany her to bed, although once there he plans only to watch her sleep. When Eustace, Cowsy, and Egremont arrive to recover Angellina, Charles defends her valiantly, disarming his brother and making Eustace look cowardly. Forced to relinquish his coach and four horses as well as his claim to Angellina, Eustace leaves in disgrace and, after a painfully revealing conversation with his courtier friends, decides to reform himself. He confronts Charles and demands the return of his sword, his coach, his horses, and his bride; Charles agrees to return everything but Angellina. The two men fight vigorously, and Miramont arrives and tries to separate them. Andrew arrives to tell them men that Brisac has been arrested and Angellina kidnapped by Lewis; Charles, Eustace, and Miramont rescue Angellina and the lovers are reunited.

COOK

Later identified as Ralph, Brisac's cook, or "cooke" helps Andrew unload Charles's considerable collection of books, and is impressed by Charles and Andrew's great learning although he fears Charles is studying conjuring. The cook wonders why Charles is not as friendly as Eustace. Brisac places the cook in charge of the elaborate food being prepared for Angellina and Eustace's wedding.

COWSY

A parasitic courtier who encourages Eustace to be the same, Cowsy supports Eustace's plan to marry Angellina, agrees to help produce the marriage masque, and, after Angellina chooses to marry Charles instead, helps Eustace attempt to kidnap her. After Eustace's unexpected reform, he borrows Cowsy's sword and uses it to dismiss Cowsy and Egremont, after a long lecture on their contributions to court corruption.

EGREMONT

A parasitic courtier who accompanies Eustace as he returns home to meet his future bride Angellina, Egremont advises Eustace that after the marriage he must keep Angellina from all learning. Egremont agrees to prepare a marriage masque and is dismayed to find the performance is cancelled when Angellina announces she will marry Charles rather than Eustace. Egremont agrees to help Eustace and Cowsy kidnap Angellina, but the three men are easily disarmed by Charles. Egremont is dismissed by the suddenly reformed Eustace with a sharp scolding for contributing to court corruption.

EUSTACE

A handsome though vain young courtier, Eustace is the son of the justice Brisac and the younger brother of the scholar Charles. When Brisac and his neighbor Lewis decide their children should marry, Eustace is summoned home and arrives in fine style with his parasitical friends Egremont and Cowsy. Hoping the marriage will allow him to advance at court, Eustace agrees to wed Angellina, particularly after he learns of his father's plan to persuade Charles to sign over his inheritance to Eustace. Convinced that all women find him irresistible, Eustace is later shocked when Angellina refuses to marry him, instead accepting Charles's unexpected proposal. Confronting Charles in an effort to kidnap Angellina, Eustace is disarmed by his brother, whose skill as a swordsman Eustace has seriously underestimated. Eustace must beg for his life, and give Charles his coach and four horses in order to be released. After a painfully enlightening conversation with Cowsy and Egremont about courtly honor, Eustace borrows Cowsy's sword then orders his former friends to leave, excoriating them for their contributions to court corruption. Now reformed, Eustace confronts Charles, demanding the return of his sword, his coach and horses, and Angellina. The two men fight. As their uncle Miramont attempts to stop them, he suddenly begins to admire Eustace for his fighting skills. Forcing his nephews to reconcile, Miramont then joins them as they rescue Angellina and Brisac, who are in Lewis's power. The rescue is successful, and Miramont promises to make Eustace his heir to help the young man find a suitable wife.

GILBERT

The given name of Brisac's butler.

KING OF FRANCE

A "ghost character." Brisac and Lewis are on their way to see him in the play's final scene in the hope that the king will adjudicate their dispute over the marriage of Charles and Angellina.

LADIES

Non-speaking characters who arrive for Angellina's wedding to Eustace and who then watch as the bride is courted and proposed to by the groom's brother.

LEWIS

A French lord and an indulgent father, Lewis decides to arrange a marriage for his daughter Angellina with one of the sons of his neighbor Brisac. Charles, the scholarly elder brother, seems unsuitable, but Lewis is impressed with the polished courtier Eustace and, after Brisac agrees to persuade Charles to transfer his inheritance rights to his younger brother, Lewis tells Angellina she is to marry Eustace. Arriving to witness the signing of the papers and to negotiate the dowry, Lewis is furious when Charles, who has suddenly fallen in love with Angellina, refuses to sign over his inheritance. When Angellina accepts Charles's unexpected proposal, Lewis disowns her. He confronts Brisac and accuses the justice of having plotted against him, demanding that Brisac deliver Angellina, who has taken refuge with Brisac's brother Miramont. Lewis orders Brisac's house seized and has his friends and kinsmen kidnap Angellina. On the road to Paris, traveling to see the king to have the matter adjudicated, Lewis accuses Angellina of lust, a charge vigorously denied by Angellina's maid Sylvia; he is then confronted by Charles, Eustace, and Miramont, who have come to rescue Angellina. Miramont persuades Lewis to drop his suit to avoid publicity, humiliation, and greedy lawyers. Although Lewis does not give his verbal consent, Miramont claims to see the consent in Lewis's face, and Charles and Angellina are reunited.

LILLY

Wife of Andrew, Charles's witty servant, Lilly is placed in charge of the linen for the wedding feast. Andrew overhears Brisac arrange an assignation with Lilly, who, despite some intense flirting and fondling, dismisses the old man as too old to have sex with her. When Brisac later threatens to take away Andrew's farm, Lilly responds first by threatening legal action, then by conceding to his lust, but Andrew enters and prevents the encounter.

MIRAMONT

A gentleman, Miramont is brother to the justice Brisac and uncle to Charles and Eustace. Greatly admiring Charles's learning, Miramont has his nephew read the Iliad to him in Greek although he does not understand a word of the language, and works hard to thwart Brisac's plan to transfer Charles's substantial inheritance to his younger brother Eustace. Scorning Eustace, Miramont strongly opposes the marriage arranged between his nephew and Angellina, refuses to consider Brisac's request that Miramont make Eustace rather than Charles his heir, and offers the bride a rude explanation of why she should not marry the courtier. Miramont warns Charles not to sign the papers transferring his inheritance, and later praises Charles to Angellina, convincing her to re-think her impending marriage. When Charles and Angellina are disowned by their fathers, they take refuge with Miramont who helps Charles defeat Eustace, Egremont, and Cowsy when they attempt to kidnap Angellina. Miramont serves as a witness when Andrew entraps Brisac during an assignation with Andrew's wife Lilly, and, after pretending to think his brother is an imposter, threatens to expose Brisac to public humiliation if the justice does not give Andrew and Lilly an additional one hundred acres of farmland. Miramont attempts to stop the serious fight between Charles and Eustace, and is quite taken with Eustace's skills as a swordsman. This admiration, coupled with what Miramont knows about his brother and Lilly, causes Miramont to attempt to reconcile the pairs of brothers. Miramont accompanies Chalres and Eustace when they try to rescue Angellina, who has been kidnapped by her father, and talks Lewis out of pursuing his suit. After advising Eustace to turn to learning and valor, Miramont pays off the arresting officers, allowing for a happy ending.

NOTARY

Produces the ironclad contract by which Charles's birthright is to be transferred to his younger brother Eustace.

OFFICERS

Non-speaking characters who accompany Lewis, Angellina, Sylvia, and Brisac as they make their way to the King after Lewis kidnaps his daughter, seizes Brisac's house, and arrests his neighbor.

PRIEST

Arrives to perform the marriage between Eustace and Angellina, which does not take place, and complains of his hunger.

RALPH

The given name of Brisac's cook.

SERVANTS

Attached to Brisac and Miramont's households. One announces the arrival of Eustace and Charles at Brisac's house; another is asked to witness Charles's confrontation with his brother Eustace over Angellina, and is sent to ask the king for a pardon when Charles decides he will kill Eustace.

SYLVIA

Angellina's bawdy maid, Sylvia suggests a sexual exercise program when Angellina's father worries that his daughter will become too lazy. Sylvia also offers a knowing explanation of Charles's lovesick condition as he follows Angellina around Miramont's house after the two of them have been disowned by their fathers. Sylvia later vigorously defends her mistress's reputation when Lewis, having kidnapped his daughter to prevent her marriage to Charles, falsely accuses Angellina of being lustful.