John Fletcher and
THE MAID IN THE MILL
licensed 29 August 1623
revised 1 November 1623
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
A "ghost character." Amaranta was the nurse of the baby Florimell. She was eaten by a bear, after which Florimell was rescued and raised by Franio and Gillian.
Aminta is a gentlewoman of the house of Bellides. She aids Ismenia in her pursuit of Antonio, but secretly fancies him too. She accompanies Ismenia (who is disguised as a shepherdess called Isabella) to the country. Also disguised as a shepherdess, Aminta tells Antonio that 'Isabella' loves him. She then disguises as a page in order to deliver a letter to Antonio from Ismenia to test his reaction. When Ismenia's deception has been revealed, and she and Antonio have agreed to marry, Aminta waits at Ismenia's window with a priest and a bed ready, hoping to fool Antonio into marrying her. But it is Martine, dressed in Antonio's clothes, who arrives, and the couple are married, both thinking they are marrying someone else. When Aminta realises her mistake, she accepts it as poetic justice.
Antonio is a gentleman of the house of Julio who falls in love with Ismenia, of the rival house, when she prevents a fight between the young men of the households. He meets Ismenia at her balcony and asks her to accompany him on his forthcoming visit to the country. Ismenia does not dare, but when he arrives in the country, Antonio meets a shepherdess named Isabella, who looks exactly like her (and is of course Ismenia in disguise). Antonio's friend Martine, hoping to gain Ismenia for himself, encourages Antonio to marry Isabella, and Antonio is racked with indecision. When Ismenia reveals her disguise, Antonio is ashamed of his behaviour. But she forgives him, and they plan a secret marriage. But when Antonio and Martine approach her house, Martine persuades him to swap clothes, ostensibly to confuse anyone who attacks them. They are attacked, and Antonio rescues Martine by pursuing their enemies. He is then angered to learn that Martine has used the clothes to trick Ismenia into marrying him. He fights Martine and is arrested. Julio and Bellides, blaming Antonio for the disappearance of Ismenia, demand that he marry 'Isabella' the shepherdess as a punishment. When 'Isabella' reveals that she is Ismenia in disguise and that Martine married Aminta by mistake, all is resolved.
Bellides is the father of Ismenia. His household is at enmity with the house of Julio. When events cause them to fear for the lives of their children, Bellides and Julio decide to end their differences. Having learned via Martine that Ismenia and Antonio plan to marry, they decide to maintain a pretence of animosity until the last minute. Bellides pretends to be angry with Ismenia and locks her up. He then pretends to be angry with Antonio. But having ordered Antonio to marry 'Isabella', Bellides and Julio reveal that they have made friends, for they knew Isabella was the disguised Ismenia all along.
Bustofa is the clownish son of Franio the miller and brother of Florimell. Bustofa is to play Paris in a play to be performed by the locals before the visiting aristocracy, but his father will not let him go. Otrante and Gerasto distract Franio so that Bustofa can sneak out, but they insist that he bring Florimell with him. When Florimell is abducted during the performance, Bustofa fears his father's anger. Julio orders Antonio to look after Bustofa, but Antonio pays him to leave them. When he encounters Julio, Bustofa excuses Antonio's absence by inventing a fight between Antonio and the Bellides clan, which makes Julio realise how much he loves Antonio. In the conclusion, Bustofa brings 'Isabella' before Antonio. When Bustofa learns that Florimell is a foundling, he is disappointed to learn that he remains a miller's son, but the lords permit him to wear rich clothes provided by Vertigo.
Arrests Antonio for fighting Martine.
Three country wenches perform the roles of Nymphs in the play-within-the-play.
A character in the play-within-the-play who acts as chorus.
A disguise of a blind singer taken on by Gerasto.
Florimell is the beautiful daughter of Franio the miller. Otrante lusts after her and persuades Florimell's brother, Bustofa, to take her with him when he goes to the court to perform in a play. Florimell performs the role of Venus, but is abducted onstage by Gerasto and taken to Otrante's house. She refuses to sleep with Otrante unless he marries her. Otrante exerts pressure by threatening to ruin her reputation. But Florimell wins through by pretending to be wanton and flirtatious, which Otrante finds repellent. King Philippo then arrives and demands that Otrante compensate Florimell. She refuses money, and Otrante agrees to marry her. It is then revealed that Florimell was a foundling, and that the aristocrat Julio is her real father.
A miller, husband of Gillian, father of Bustofa and pretended father of Florimell. Franio bans Bustofa from acting in a play before the aristocrats. When Bustofa disobeys and takes his sister with him, Florimell is abducted. Franio asks Julio for help, but only makes him miserable in remembrance of his own lost daughter. He eventually receives help from King Philippo. When Florimell is rescued, she decides to marry her abductor, Otrante; Franio and Gillian then reveal that she is an aristocratic foundling.
Non-speaking roles. Two gentlemen who attack Antonio and Martine while Martine is disguised as Antonio. Antonio drives them off, and Martine takes the opportunity to marry Aminta, believing her to be Ismenia.
Gerasto is the servant of Otrante. He helps his master to abduct Florimell by disguising as Diego, a blind singer, and singing a song to lure her to the court. While Florimell is acting in the play-within-the-play, Gerasto, dressed as Mars, abducts her, and takes her to Otrante's house. On Otrante's orders, Gerasto and the Servants call Florimell first a whore, then a virgin, in order to demonstrate that her reputation is in Otrante's hands.
Gillian is the wife of Franio the miller, and pretended mother of Florimell. When Florimell is abducted, Gillian advises Franio to beg assistance from the King. It is Gillian who reveals the truth about Florimell's parentage in the final scene.
Non-speaking role. A friend of Julio, who watches the play-within-the-play.
Non-speaking role. A friend of Julio, who watches the play-within-the-play.
The name adopted by Ismenia when she disguises as a shepherdess.
Ismenia is the daughter of Bellides. She prevents a fight between the young men of the Bellides and Julio clans by standing between them. There, she falls in love with Antonio of the rival house. He meets her at her balcony and asks her to accompany him on his forthcoming visit to the country. Ismenia does not dare, but follows him in secret, disguised as a shepherdess called Isabella. Antonio falls in love with 'Isabella' and contemplates marrying her. Ismenia reveals her deception, and Antonio is ashamed at his behaviour; she forgives him, and they plan a secret marriage. Their plan is complicated when Aminta tries to trick Antonio into marrying her, but she ends up accidentally marrying Martine. In the final scene, Ismenia appears dressed as 'Isabella' again, and Julio and Bellides demand that Antonio marry her as a punishment for Ismenia's disappearance. 'Isabella' then reveals that she is Ismenia, and the fathers admit that they knew all along and are pleased to see their houses united in marriage.
A nobleman whose household is at enmity with the Bellides clan. Julio welcomes the aristocrats to his country estate, and the play-within-the-play is staged in his house. When Florimell is abducted, Julio is angry, but the girl's father's request for assistance in rescuing her results only in Julio's self-pity because he is reminded of his own lost daughter. When Bustofa makes up a story about Antonio fighting the Bellides clan, Julio is not fooled for long, but the story makes him realise the dangers of the feud between the families. Bellides shares these fears, and the two fathers make friends. Having learned via Martine that Ismenia and Antonio plan to marry, they agree to pretend they are still enemies until the last minute. Both pretend to be angry at Antonio, and they force him to marry the shepherdess 'Isabella'. When she reveals that she is Ismenia in disguise, both Julio and Bellides admit that they knew all along and are happy to unite their households in marriage. It is then revealed that Florimell is Julio's long-lost daughter.
Queen of the Gods, performed by Ismenia/Isabella in the play-within-the-play.
Lisauro is the brother of Ismenia and son of Bellides. He and his kinsman Tirso quarrel with Antonio and Martine, of the rival Julio clan, but Ismenia and Aminta end the fight by standing between them. In a later scene, Lisauro encourages Vertigo to behave like a lord in order to gull Franio.
God of war; a role played by Gerasto in the play-within-the-play. He uses this guise as an opportunity to abduct Florimell.
Martine is a friend of Antonio but also his secret rival for Ismenia's love. When Antonio admires the countrywoman Isabella (who is really Ismenia in disguise), Martine, hoping to gain Ismenia for himself, encourages Antonio to marry 'Isabella', and tells her that Antonio loves her. When Ismenia reveals her disguise, Martine is shamed, but he then informs Bellides about the ensuing marriage of Antonio and Ismenia. His plan backfires when Bellides and Julio make friends and decide secretly to support the marriage. As Antonio and Martine travel toward Ismenia's house, Martine suggests they swap clothes in order to confuse anyone who attacks them. But when they are attacked, Martine slips away to Ismenia's window, hoping to trick her into marrying him. But it is Aminta he discovers at the window, not Ismenia - and they both marry in the belief that the other is someone else. Antonio attacks Martine in anger, but is arrested. When Martine's mistake is revealed, he makes friends with Antonio, and accepts his new wife.
A courtier who encourages Vertigo to behave as a lord in order to gull Franio.
Otrante is a count who lusts after Florimell, the miller's daughter. In order to gain access to her, he encourages her father to go hunting so that she and her brother Bustofa are free to go to the court. His servant Gerasto abducts Florimell and takes her to Otrante's house. Florimell refuses to sleep with Otrante unless he marries her. Otrante exerts pressure by threatening to ruin her reputation. But Florimell wins through by pretending to be wanton and flirtatious, which Otrante finds repellent. King Philippo then arrives, and demands that Otrante compensate Florimell. She refuses money, and Otrante agrees to marry her. It is then revealed that Florimell was a foundling, and that the aristocrat Julio is her real father.
Goddess of war and wisdom; the role played by Aminta in the play-within-the-play.
The role played by Bustofa in the play-within-the-play.
Not to be confused with Pedro the songster. A courtier who encourages Vertigo to behave as a lord in order to gull Franio.
Non-speaking role. Not to be confused with Pedro the courtier. Pedro plays strings while Gerasto, disguised as Diego the blind singer, sings to Florimell.
Not to be confused with Philippo the lord. Philippo, King of Spain is a virtuous monarch who wears plain attire, scorns the showy aristocrats, and admonishes Vertigo the flamboyant tailor. When Otrante abducts Florimell, Franio submits an angry petition to the King, protesting at the bad behaviour of courtiers. Philippo tests him by pretending to be angry at the accusation and then promises to help. Philippo and his entourage visit Otrante's house and find the hidden Florimell. He orders Otrante to compensate his victim, and, when they decide to marry, offers to pay her dowry.
Non-speaking role. Not to be confused with Phillippo the King. A friend of Julio who watches the play-within-the-play.
Otrante's servants are ordered to call Florimell first a whore, then a virgin, in order to make her believe that her reputation lies in Otrante's hands.
Sings during the entrance of the goddesses in the play-within-the-play.
A kinsman of Lisauro and friend of Bellides. Tirso and Lisauro quarrel with Antonio and Martine. Later, he encourages Vertigo to behave as a lord in order to gull Franio.
Goddess of love; the role performed by Florimell in the play-within-the-play.
A French tailor who is owed money by the showy courtiers. The lords flatter him so much that he starts acting like a lord, and when Franio enters to present his petition to King Philippo, he thinks Vertigo is the King and is embarrassed when the real King enters. At the end of the play, Vertigo provides aristocratic clothes for Florimell and Bustofa.