John Fletcher
(with John Ford, Philip Massinger, and John Webster?)

licensed 22 January 1626

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A proud, warlike Florentine admiral. Infuriated by a quarrel between his son Caesario and Mentivole (q.q.v.), he demands Mentivole's hand to be cut off as punishment. Although the punishment is never administered, Alberto's demand creates a division between his family and that of Baptista, father of Mentivole. Alberto is then sent to war against the Turks, and is believed to have died at sea. But he was in fact only captured, and having been rescued by Prospero (q.v.), he arrives back in Florence to discover that Caesario is not really his son. He continues to love Caesario regardless, and together they try to prevent the marriage of Alberto's daughter, Clarissa, to Mentivole. Alberto's reconciliation is made with the Baptista family after the latter's long-lost daughter, Bianca, is found, and marries Caesario.


The eponymous fair maid of the inn. Her beauty attracts suitors to the inn, all of whom are foolish except Caesario. Bianca rebuffs Caesario when he refuses to marry her out of fear for debasing his gentility, and she is therefore pleased when his true parentage is revealed. When Caesario turns to her after being refused all other offers of marriage, she rejects him, saying that although she pities him, she has decided never to marry. When, however, she is revealed to be an aristocratic foundling, and daughter of Baptista (q.v.), she forgives Caesario and marries him.


Four boys dressed as frogs whom Forobosco (q.v.) pretends are water-spirits. They dance and the Clown (q.v.) pretends to be conjured into joining them.


A Turk who captures Alberto and Prospero (q.q.v.).


A young Florentine gentleman, son of Alberto (q.v.) and proud of his noble birth. He lusts after Bianca, an innkeeper's daughter, but refuses to marry her for fear of debasing his gentility. He is protective of his sister, Clarissa, with an incestuous ardor, and forbids her to marry Mentivole when a fight between them divides their respective families. Caesario's life is turned upside down when his mother, Mariana, reveals that he is actually the adopted son of a falconer. Desperate to retain a sense of gentility, Caesario contemplates marrying his mother and then his sister, but both turn him down, as does Bianca. Humiliated, he longs for death, but his problem is solved when Prospero (q.v.) reveals that Bianca is in fact an aristocratic foundling: Caesario thus marries her and all is well.


Sister of Caesario (or so they think). Clarissa tries to escape her brother's protective jealousy by secretly plighting her troth to Mentivole (q.v.), but when Caesario quarrels with Mentivole, he discovers what she has done, and bans her from marrying him. When it is revealed that Caesario is an adopted commoner, not a gentleman, Caesario decides to marry Clarissa, but she and her mother Mariana refuse to allow this. She and Mentivole threaten suicide if they are not allowed to marry, but the crisis is solved when Prospero reveals the aristocratic birth of Bianca (q.q.v.): Caesario marries Bianca, and Mentivole and Clarissa are thus free to marry each other.


One of Bianca's foolish suitors. An advocate's clerk who "speaks pure fustian".


The Clown is Forobosco's assistant, and his job is to prove the latter's skills in magic. His method is to quarrel in public with Forobosco and loudly denounce him as a charlatan. Forobosco then 'conjures' him into dancing like a frog. The Clown is of course only pretending to be conjured, but the onlookers are convinced that Forobosco's powers are real. The Clown is captured, along with Forobosco, in the act of stealing from Prospero's room, and is sent to the galleys.


A Turk who captures Alberto and Prospero (q.q.v.).


One of Bianca's foolish suitors. Requests Forobosco's help in learning the art of dissembling.


A pseudonym used by Forobosco (q.v.) when he is in England.


The Duke of Florence selects Alberto (q.v.) to be commander in the Turkish wars. He also makes recommendations on how to solve the problem of Caesario's status when it is revealed that he is basely born, ordering his adopted mother Mariana (q.v.) to marry him unless she can come up with a better solution. In the conclusion, it is the Duke who suggests that Caesario marry Bianca (q.v.).


Does not appear in the play. The Duke is the uncle of Juliana, and is infuriated by her secret marriage to Baptista. He banishes Baptista from Genoa. Later, Juliana's illness persuades him to send her to Lucca, whereupon she escapes.


Does not appear in the play. The natural mother of Caesario (q.v.).


A mountebank who gulls his victims into believing that he has magical powers. He makes Bianca's suitors look foolish by ordering them to bow and dance for him, and he charges exorbitant fees when they request magical assistance for their various projects. He and his assistant, the Clown (q.v.) are captured when they try to steal from Prospero (q.v.), and are sent to the galleys.


Three Florentine gentlemen who comment on the horse-race between Mentivole and Caesario (q.q.v.) and take the injured Caesario away after his sword-fight with Mentivole.


An innkeeper, named Rolando (q.v.), who is the father of Bianca. Bianca's beauty attracts hordes of suitors to the inn, which pleases the Host because it brings in money. He goes along with Forobosco's (q.v.) plan to gull the suitors, because he finds it amusing. But when he finds Forobosco and the Clown (q.v.) trying to steal from Prospero's room, he captures them, and brings them before the Duke of Florence for punishment.


Wife of the Host (q.v.), who is annoyed with the hordes of suitors who come to the inn to meet with Bianca.


A niece of the Duke of Genoa. The Duke refuses her permission to marry Baptista (q.v.). They marry in secret, but the Duke finds out and banishes Baptista. When pregnant, she finds an excuse to travel to Lucca, where she gives the baby to Prospero (q.v.), and spends many years in a Greek monastery, before traveling to Florence to be reunited with Baptista and her daughter, Bianca.


A German from whom Forobosco (q.v.) learned the art of alchemy.


Wife of Alberto (q.v.), and doting mother of Caesario. When Alberto is reported dead, she reveals to the court that Caesario is not her natural son, but the adopted son of a falconer's wife (q.v.). She is appalled when the Duke (q.v.) suggests that she restore Caesario's gentility by marrying him, but, lacking a better solution, recommends to Caesario that they marry but never sleep together. When Caesario turns down this offer, Mariana refuses his alternative suggestion that he marry her daughter Clarissa. The crisis is solved when Alberto turns out to be alive, and n Caesario marries Bianca after she has been revealed to be an aristocrat.


A Florentine gallant, son of Baptista and secret lover of Clarissa (q.q.v.). His quarrel with Clarissa's brother, Caesario (q.v.), brings about a division between their two families, and Caesario refuses to let Clarissa marry Mentivole. This refusal that becomes more serious when Caesario's true birth is revealed, and he decides to marry Clarissa. Mentivole threatens to kill himself if he is prevented from marrying her, but the crisis is solved by Prospero's (q.v.) revelation that Bianca (q.v.) is an aristocratic foundling. Caesario marries Bianca (q.v.), and Mentivole and Clarissa are therefore free to marry each other, and unify the houses.


One of Bianca's foolish suitors: a mule-driver turned monster-keeper. Requests Forobosco's help in finding new wonders.


One of Bianca's foolish suitors: an amorous man, run mad with the study of sonnets. Requests Forobosco's help in his scheme to make money by starting new religious sects, and by increasing the number of days in the week to nine.


Tends on Caesario (q.v.) after he is wounded in the fight with Mentivole (q.v.).


A friend of Baptista (q.v.), who stays in Genoa when Baptista is banished, to help Juliana. He facilitates the happy ending by helping Juliana escape Genoa; leaving the baby with the Host (q.v.); rescuing Alberto (q.v.) from the Turks; and revealing the truth to the assembled characters at the end.


The proper name of the Host (q.v.), who is almost always referred to by his job title.


Relates the news of Alberto's (q.v.) death to his family.


Tells Caesario that his father, Alberto, is not dead.


Tends on Caesario (q.v.) after he is wounded in the fight with Mentivole (q.v.).


One of Bianca's foolish suitors. Requests Forobosco's help in inventing new fashions.


Does not appear in the play. Responsible for freeing Forobosco and the Clown (q.q.v.) from the galleys before the play's action begins.