Thomas Killigrew

THE PARSON'S WEDDING

1640–1641
[revived in Restoration]

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

BAUD

Baud is the maid to Mistress Wanton. Her main function in the play is to publicly claim that the Parson seduced her into his bed, in order to further Wanton and the Captain's jest.

BOY, CAPTAIN'S

The Captain's boy delivers to Lady Love-all a letter that the Captain wrote to Wanton but accidentally addressed to Lady Love-all.

CAPTAIN

The Captain and the Parson are archenemies. The Captain and the Parson sling so many insults at each other that it's difficult to discern which are true and which are false. According to the dramatic personae, both of the men are "wits," but the Parson is "over-reached" by the "leading" wit, the Captain. The Captain claims to be the better soldier, but the Parson says that the Captain was born of a gypsy and a peddler and that it is actually the Parson who comes from the longer line of scholars and soldiers. The Captain threatens to print ballads against the Parson, but the Parson claims that the Captain is illiterate. If nothing else, the Captain is certainly a libertine. He refuses to marry or keep his girlfriend Wanton and threatens to break up with her unless she marries the Parson as a joke on the Parson. According to the Parson, the Captain is already married to a gypsy wife whom he's abandoned. After the Parson and Wanton marry, and Jolly seduces another of the Captain's lovers, Lady Love-all, Wild, Careless, and Jolly mock the Captain for having lost his bragging rights. But this means little to the Captain, who had arranged for the Parson's marriage in the first place and who has just come from Lady Love-all's with a better necklace, a written statement of affection, and a smile on his face. Later, at Lady Wild's dinner party, the four men, who have agreed to join forces, take on Sadd and Constant in a debate. The Captain and his cohorts extol the virtues of libertinism and the speak against marriage, love, and women. Sadd and Constant remain devoted to the notions of romantic love and marriage. In act three, the Captain accidentally addresses a letter meant for Wanton to Lady Love-all. Since the subject of the letter is the Captain having duped Love-all, whom the Captain describes as a "whore," Lady Love-all is understandably angry. But when she arrives at the Devil, the tavern where the Captain is drinking with his cohorts, the Captain easily deserts her, leaving her to pay the tab. The Captain and Wanton then scheme to play a trick on the drunken Parson. The Parson is put to bed with the Baud. The Captain pretends to be the constable and Jolly pretends to be the summoner, and they break into the house and arrest the Parson on charges of adultery. Wild, who pretends to be the justice, suggests whipping, but then Wanton says that the Parson should be allowed to go free if he promises to look the other way when she has affairs with other men, to which the Parson readily agrees. The Captain also initiates the plot to trick Mistress Pleasant and Lady Wild into marrying Ned Wild and Tom Careless. He persuades Wild and Careless to climb into bed with the ladies and then gives out that the two couples are married. After having been seen by half the town and court in bed with the men, the ladies reluctantly consent to marry them. At the end of the play, Lady Love-all finally catches up with the Captain and prepares to tell him off, but the Captain claims that he has already changed characters and is now Epilogue. He advises Lady Love-all to go in to the Parson and encourage him to seek revenge from the playwright for the way he's been unfairly represented in the play.

TOM CARELESS

Careless is Ned Wild's best friend. At the beginning of the play, the two of them have just returned from three years in France, where he has developed continental tastes. Careless has no tolerance for platonic love. When Lady Wild and Mistress Pleasure invite Careless and his friends to dinner, Careless resists because women like Wild and Pleasure, "take a pleasure to raise a spirit that they will not lay," and he proposes to go to Banks, an ordinary, instead. Early in the play Wild and Careless join forces with the Captain and Jolly, and together they come up with a strange plan to rail against women and marriage in an effort to win the attentions of Mistress Pleasant and Lady Wild. They also help the Captain and Wanton play tricks on the Parson, Wild by pretending to be a justice and Careless by pretending to be a summoner. In return, the Captain helps Careless and Wild to marry Lady Wild and Mistress Pleasant. He persuades Wild and Careless to climb into bed with the ladies and then gives out that the two couples are married. After having been seen by half the town and court in bed with the men, the ladies reluctantly consent to marry them.

JACK CONSTANT

Constant is Mistress Pleasant's leading suitor at the beginning of the play. Pleasant finds him extremely boring, and indeed he does little more than profess his devotion and engage in debates extolling the virtues of romantic love. Along with Will Sadd and Secret, he makes up a story that Lady Wild's house has been infested by the plague, in the hopes that she and Mistress Pleasant will leave London and not fall under the spell of Careless and Wild. Their schemes fail when the Captain devises a plane to trick the ladies into marrying Wild and Careless.

CROPP

Mr. Cropp is a scrivener. He is described as a Brownist. He loaned money to Jolly and, in act three, he goes to the Devil, a tavern, looking for his money. Jolly tells him, "'twas my business to borrow it, and it shall be yours to get it in again." Jolly, Wild, and Careless kick Cropp and throw him out of the room.

DRAWER

The Drawer, who works at the Devil, proves unsympathetic to Lady Love-all who gets stuck paying the tab after she's deserted by the Captain, Wild, Jolly, and Careless.

FAITHFUL

Lady Love-all's waiting woman. Chosen, according to Jolly, because of her discretion at arranging liaisons. At the end of the play, she's still furious for having been libeled by the Captain.

LADY FREEDOM

A "ghost character." Jolly refers to her in the first act. Constant had tried to arrange a match between Jolly and Lady Freedom, but Jolly found her to be too liberal for his liking. Jolly describes her as a red-haired, religious-minded "Indepence Woman" whose charitable acts include caring for the "members" of "naked men" in the local congregation as well as orphans. Jolly thinks that Lady Freedom should divorce her husband and marry the "Man in the Almanack," so that she can "lick him whole." Clearly, Jolly's depiction and denouncement of Lady Freedom illustrates the anxieties about religious sectarian women in mid-seventeenth century England.

JOLLY

A consummate man of court. Jolly's first dialogue with Sadd and Constant is a diatribe against the horrors of country house life. People who live in the country, according to Jolly, are overzealous and make it their primary business to slander the court and the pope; in short, they're parliament men. Indeed, Jolly is so devoted to the crown that he brought the king's letter patents with him when he proposed to Lady Wild. This was, in Lady Wild's opinion, a mistake, and she told him that she wasn't interested. Jolly then moves on to Lady Love-all, from whom his sexual favors earn him a pearl necklace and bragging rights, up until the Captain, another of Lady Love-all's lovers, earns a better necklace and an affectionate letter from Love-all. At that point, Jolly agrees to join forces with the Captain, Wild, and Careless against the women in the play, though his new union with the Captain does not stop him from trying to seduce the Captain's wench, Wanton, on several occasions. Wanton refuses, though she gives Jolly permission to say that she slept with him.

LADY LOVE–ALL

Lady Love-all is an "excellent woman," in the Captain's opinion, in that "'tis but going in to her, and you may know her." An older widow who describes herself as a "young woman," Lady Love-all spends part of her day reading romances translated from the French and the other part of it having liaisons with town wits, including, in the play itself, Jolly and the Captain. Her strategy seems to be to pretend to be taken against her will. She enjoys playing out "rape" (to use Lady Love-all's word) scenarios in which she is the victim, and when we first meet her, it is Jolly whose advances she is feigning to resist. "Three words and four deeds" later, Jolly emerges from Love-all's house with a pearl necklace. The Captain, not to be outdone, pretends to call on behalf of Ned Wild, and persuades Love-all to give him a chain and a letter. In act three, the Captain accidentally addresses a letter meant for Wanton to Lady Love-all. Since the subject of the letter is the Captain having duped Love-all, whom the Captain describes as a "whore," Lady Love-all is understandably angry. She arrives at the Devil, the tavern where the Captain is drinking with his cohorts, and confronts the Captain, but he easily deserts her, leaving her to pay the tab. At the end of the play, Lady Love-all finally catches up with the Captain and prepares to tell him off, but the Captain claims that he has already changed characters and is now Epilogue. He advises Lady Love-all to go in to the Parson and encourage him to seek revenge from the playwright for the way he's been unfairly represented in the play.

PARSON

The Parson describes himself as a scholar and a soldier, but the Captain characterizes the Parson as someone who is led by his appetite. One thing for certain is that the two men are archenemies. According to the dramatic personae, both of the men are "wits," but the Parson is "over-reached" by the "leading" wit, the Captain. When the Captain persuades his girlfriend Wanton to marry the Parson as a joke on the Parson, the Parson, who is quite enamoured of Wanton, is an easy target. Wanton's first conjugal act is to get her new husband drunk, steal his plate, and play a trick on him. The drunken Parson is put to bed with the Baud. The Captain pretends to be the constable and Jolly pretends to be the summoner, and they break into the house and arrest the Parson on charges of adultery. Wild, who pretends to be the justice, suggests whipping, but then Wanton says that the Parson should be allowed to go free if he promises to look the other way when she has affairs with other men, to which the Parson readily agrees. In the second half of the play, he is relatively quiet, but he does help the Captain, Wild, and Careless further their scheme against the ladies by falsely claiming that he married the two couples the previous night.

MISTRESS PLEASANT

She claims to be reluctant to marry ("I fear no body so much as a husband; and when I can conquer that doubt, I'll marry at a minutes warning"). However, Mistress Pleasant is, from the opening of the play, constantly considering the attributes of her various suitors, in her search for a husband with "wit and honor." Both she and her constant companion, Lady Wild, are interested in having what they call "subject lovers," what can only be described as sort of human lap dogs or love slaves. When they are tricked into marrying Wild and Careless, their reluctance stems only from disliking not having the upper hand rather than disliking the men. Indeed, Mistress Pleasant is thrilled to be rid of Mr. Jack Constant, who proved too tedious a lover for her.

WILL SADD

Sadd is Lady Wild's current suitor at the beginning of the play. Lady Wild grows tired of him being depressing all the time. She predicts in act one that Sadd's successful run will soon end: "he cannot last above another Fall." Along with Jack Constant and Secret, Sadd makes up a story that Lady Wild's house has been infested by the plague, in the hopes that she and Mistress Pleasant will leave London and not fall under the spell of Careless and Wild. The scheme fails when the Captain devises a plane to trick the ladies into marrying Wild and Careless.

MISTRESS SECRET

Secret is Mistress Pleasant's waiting woman. She is inclined to bawdy, sexual innuendo. She goes along with Will Sadd and Jack Constant in their story that Lady Wild's house has been infested by the plague.

TAILOR

The Tailor arrives at the Devil, a tavern, in act three, looking for Jolly, who owes him money. Wild and Careless get the Tailor drunk in the hopes that he will confront Jolly and Jolly will beat him. The Tailor does confront Jolly -- and threatens to have him arrested -- but Jolly just laughs.

MISTRESS WANTON

Considered clever and attractive by virtually every man in the play, Wanton herself prefers the libertine Captain. At the beginning of the play the Captain tells her that he'll never marry her or keep her, and that the only way he'll continue to visit her bed is if she agrees to marry the Parson as a joke on the Parson. Wanton, clearly in love with the Captain, does so, though by act two she says she is happy to be in a marriage in which she wears the breeches. One of Wanton's first conjugal acts is to get her husband drunk and steal his plate and jewelry. The Captain and Wanton then scheme to play a trick on the drunken Parson. The Parson is put to bed with the Baud. The Captain pretends to be the constable and Jolly pretends to be the summoner, and they break into the house and arrest the Parson on charges of adultery. Wild, who pretends to be the justice, suggests whipping, but then Wanton says that the Parson should be allowed to go free if he promises to look the other way when she has affairs with other men, to which the Parson readily agrees.

LADY WILD

A beautiful, young widow with a good reputation and three thousand pounds per annum. Lady Wild has several suitors. After Jolly proves to officious and Sadd too depressing, Lady Wild finds herself more attractive to Tom Careless. Both she and her constant companion, Mistress Pleasant, are interested in having what they call "subject lovers," what can only be described as sort of human lap dogs or love slaves. After coming home from the play to find her house boarded up from the plague, Lady Wild and Mistress Pleasant are forced to spend the night with Ned Wild's. When they are tricked into marrying Careless and Wild, their reluctance stems only from disliking not having the upper hand rather than disliking the men.

NED WILD

At the beginning of the play, Ned Wild and his best friend Tom Careless have just returned from three years in France, and Wild, true to his name, is up for "anything good, bad, or indifferent, for a friend and mirth." Early in the play Wild and Careless join forces with the Captain and Jolly, and together they come up with a strange plan to rail against women and marriage in an effort to win the attentions of Mistress Pleasant and Lady Wild. They also help the Captain and Wanton play tricks on the Parson, Wild by pretending to be a justice and Careless by pretending to be a summoner. Though Ned Wild, in the words of his widow aunt, "dances well and has a handsome house in the Piazza," Mistress Pleasant is reluctant to consider him as a suitable marriage prospect. She thinks he's arrogant and disdains his tendency to rail against women, which is, the play suggests, mostly an act. Indeed, when she wakes up in bed with him, with several witnesses standing by, though, she rethinks her former position and agrees to marry him.