Thomas Middleton and
Thomas Dekker
THE ROARING GIRL, or
MOLL CUTPURSE

1604–1610

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

BOY

A "ghost character." Servant of Jack Dapper, the boy was dismissed because of his thinness; Jack, who also is of slight build, was teased by other gallants for his and the boy's frailty.

COACHMAN

A coach driver of London, hired by Laxton. Laxton intends to have sex with Moll Cutpurse in the coach.

CUTPURSES

Thieves of London. The cutpurses go to rob Moll Cutpurse, Sir Thomas Long, Sir Beauteous Ganymede, and Lord Noland, but are scared off by Moll, who recognizes them and explains to the others how the cutpurses work. She tells one of them to repay a knight to whom she owes a favor for a purse that was stolen in the Swan Theatre.

DAVY DAPPER, SIR

Friend of Sir Alexander Wengrave and father of Jack Dapper. Sir Davy joins Sir Alexander, Sir Adam Appleton, and the gallants in Sir Alexander's parlor while he laments his son's decision to pursue Moll Cutpurse. Sir Davy is dismayed at his own son's behavior: Jack wastes his money on gambling and on his companions. Sir Davy files a false arrest warrant against Jack, thinking that time spent in jail will tame his son's spirits.

FELLOW

A thief in London who had insulted Moll Cutpurse in a tavern. Moll sees him on the street and strikes him; he is too cowardly to retaliate.

GOSHAWK

A gallant of London. Goshawk is interested in having an affair with Mistress Openwork. Her husband Openwork is suspicious of Goshawk, and tests him by telling him that he keeps a whore in the suburbs. Goshawk tells Mistress Openwork this false information to alienate her from her husband and make her want to retaliate by having an affair with him. Mistress Openwork confronts her husband, who denies the story, and together they set a trap for Goshawk. When Goshawk goes to take Mistress Openwork to show her where her husband keeps his whore, intending instead to get her drunk and have sex with her, Openwork confronts them as they are about to leave. He and his wife pretend to argue over the matter, and Openwork claims that he will kill whoever told his wife about his whore. When it is revealed that Goshawk was responsible, he is chastened and forgiven.

GREENWIT

A gallant of London. Greenwit's name signifies youth and lust. A friend of Goshawk and Laxton, he joins them in smoking tobacco at Gallipot's apothecary shop. Greenwit later aids Laxton in an attempt to extort money from Gallipot by pretending to be a court officer serving a citation upon him.

GULL

Page to Jack Dapper. Gull's name implies foolishness; however, Gull seems to be a fool in the other sense, as a jester who speaks bluntly and with good sense. When Jack meets his companions Laxton, Goshawk, and Greenwit while on his way to Tiltyard's feather shop, he sends Gull to an eating-house to pass the time. He gives Gull three halfpence, and Gull complains that his master wastes money on his friends and is cheap to him. Later, Jack's father Sir Davy Dapper files a false arrest warrant on his son, thinking that time in jail will tame his spirits; Moll Cutpurse saves Jack from being arrested, and Gull flees with his master.

HIPPOCRATES GALLIPOT

An apothecary of London. Hippocrates is a reference to the Greek physician, and a gallipot was a glazed earthenware jar or pot used by apothecaries for storing medicines. Gallipot's wife, Mistress Gallipot, is enamored of Laxton, who strings her along because she steals money from her husband to give to him. When he demands more money than she can give him without making Gallipot suspicious, she devises a scheme. She claims to her husband that she had been betrothed to Laxton but married Gallipot because she thought Laxton had drowned at sea; now, she claims, Laxton has returned to marry her and must be bought off. Gallipot agrees, but later Laxton returns to extort more money from him, and Mistress Gallipot reveals the truth. Gallipot's money is returned to him and all is forgiven.

JACK DAPPER

A gallant of London, and son of Sir Davy Dapper. Jack Dapper wastes his money on his companions and prostitutes. He even loses money while gambling by forgetting to use his own loaded dice. His father files a false arrest warrant on him, thinking that time spent in jail will tame his spirits. Moll Cutpurse saves Jack from being arrested. Moll rescues him again when he is held ransom for his gambling debts. Later, Jack is with Moll, Sir Thomas Long, and Sir Beauteous Ganymede when Ralph Trapdoor and Tearcat, disguised as poor soldiers, accost them along with the group of cutpurses. Moll explains to Jack and the others the practice of canting and the profession of cutting purses.

LAXTON

A gallant of London. Laxton's name is likely a pun on "lacks stone," or "lacks testicles." Mistress Gallipot is enamored of Laxton, and he strings her along because she steals money from her husband to give to him. Laxton comes to demand more money of her than she can give him without raising her husband's suspicions, so she devises a scheme. She claims that she had been betrothed to Laxton but married Gallipot because she thought Laxton had drowned at sea; now Laxton has returned to marry her, she claims, and must be bought off. Laxton later teams with Greenwit in an attempt to extort more money from Gallipot. While Mistress Gallipot is enamored of him, Laxton is enamored of Moll Cutpurse. He makes an appointment to meet with her, paying her to have sex with him. When she meets with him, though, she returns the money and attacks him with her sword for thinking that women are whores.

LORD NOLAND

Friend to Moll Cutpurse. Noland's name implies that he is poor, a lord with "no land." He joins her, Jack Dapper, Sir Thomas Long, and Sir Beauteous Ganymede when Ralph Trapdoor and Tearcat disguised as poor soldiers accost them along with a group of cutpurses. Moll explains to Lord Noland and the others the practice of canting and the profession of cutting purses. Later, Lord Noland and Sir Beauteous escort Mary Fitzallard to Sir Alexander Wengrave's home as Sebastian Wengrave's wife.

MARY FITZALLARD

Sometimes called Moll, Mary is the beloved of Sebastian Wengrave. Mary and Sebastian had been betrothed to each other, but their fathers Sir Guy Fitzallard and Sir Alexander Wengrave had a disagreement and Sir Alexander forbade Sebastian from marrying her. Mary and Sebastian still love each other, though, and when Mary goes to Sebastian disguised as a seamstress, he explains his plan to force his father into allowing their marriage. Sebastian intends to let his father think that he is in love with Moll Cutpurse and plans to marry her. Because Moll Cutpurse is so undesirable, Sebastian feels, Sir Alexander would be relieved for him to wed Mary. Mary consents to the plan, and Moll agrees to help them, having her tailor dress Mary as a man so that she can visit Sebastian more easily. In the end, Mary and Sebastian do wed, and his father is relieved and happy to take her as his daughter-in-law.

MISTRESS MARY

Alternative name of Moll Cutpurse. Moll's real name is Mary Frith.

MISTRESS PRUDENCE GALLIPOT

Wife of Gallipot, the apothecary. Mistress Gallipot is enamored of Laxton, who strings her along because she steals money from her husband to give to him. When he demands more money than she can give him without making Gallipot suspicious, she devises a scheme. She claims that she had been betrothed to Laxton but married Gallipot because she thought Laxton had drowned at sea; now, she claims, Laxton has returned to marry her and must be bought off. Gallipot agrees, but later Laxton returns to extort more money from him, and Mistress Gallipot reveals the truth.

MISTRESS ROSAMOND OPENWORK

Wife of Openwork, a sempster. Mistress Openwork had been a seamstress in a lady's service before she married her husband. She distrusts Openwork, thinking that when Moll Cutpurse comes to their shop that she is having an affair with him. Goshawk is interested in having an affair with Mistress Openwork, and her husband, suspicious of him, tests Goshawk by telling him that he keeps a whore in the suburbs. Goshawk tells Mistress Openwork this false information to alienate her from her husband and make her want to retaliate by having an affair with him. Mistress Openwork confronts her husband, who denies the story, and together they set a trap for Goshawk. When Goshawk arrives to take Mistress Openwork to show her where her husband keeps his whore, intending instead to get her drunk and have sex with her, Openwork confronts them as they are about to leave. Mistress Openwork and he pretend to argue over the matter, and he claims that he will kill whoever told his wife about his whore. She reveals that it was Goshawk, who is chastened and forgiven.

MISTRESS TILTYARD

Wife of Tiltyard, a feather-seller. She tries to sell Jack Dapper a feather.

MOLL

Nickname of Mary Fitzallard and also Mary Frith. "Moll" was a common form of the name "Mary."

MOLL CUTPURSE

Mary Frith, also known as Mistress Mary, Moll Cutpurse is the Roaring Girl. Moll is based on the real Moll Cutpurse, named Mary Frith, and she is called the Roaring Girl because she behaved like the riotous gallants of the period, called "roaring boys." Moll is a scandalous figure because she dresses like a man and behaves like a man, and because she has no husband; she is also believed to be a thief and a prostitute. When Moll goes to Openwork's shop to buy a ruff, Mistress Openwork thinks she is having an affair with her husband. Laxton is enamored of Moll and pays her money to meet with him and have sex, but when she comes to their appointment she returns his money and attacks him with her sword for thinking women are whores. Moll saves Jack Dapper twice, first when Sergeant Curtilax and Yeoman Hanger come to arrest him and again when he is held ransom for his gambling debts. She explains to him and Sir Beauteous Ganymede, Sir Thomas Long, and Lord Noland the practice of canting and the profession of cutting purses. When Sir Alexander Wengrave forbids his son Sebastian from marrying Mary Fitzallard, Sebastian pretends that he wants to marry Moll Cutpurse in order to force his father into agreeing to his and Mary's wedding. Moll agrees to help them, and she dresses Mary in male attire so that she can more easily meet with Sebastian. Sir Alexander wants to have Moll imprisoned to separate her from his son. To that end he hires Ralph Trapdoor to spy on her and help entrap her. When Sir Alexander is informed that Moll will be meeting Sebastian in Sir Alexander's chamber, he leaves valuables out to tempt her into stealing them. Moll doesn't take the bait, though, so Sir Alexander gives her money that he later intends to claim she had stolen. In the end, she returns the money to him. Moll also provides the epilogue to the play, in which she says that if the play was not pleasing then the real Mary Frith would appear on stage a few days later to perform for the audience.

NEATFOOT

Servant to Sir Alexander Wengrave. The word neat is the collective for bovine animals: bulls, oxen, and cows. Neat's-foot oil was used to soften leather. When Mary Fitzallard disguises herself as a seamstress to meet with Sebastian Wengrave, Neatfoot presumes that she is his whore.

OPENWORK

A sempster of London. "Sempster" is the masculine form of seamstress, and "openwork" is cloth that has a pattern of holes worked into it, such as lace. Openwork's wife distrusts him, thinking that when Moll Cutpurse comes to their shop that she is having an affair with him. Openwork is suspicious of Goshawk, who is interested in having an affair with Mistress Openwork. He decides to test Goshawk by telling him that he keeps a whore in the suburbs. Goshawk tells Mistress Openwork this false information to alienate her from her husband and make her want to retaliate by having an affair with him. Mistress Openwork confronts her husband, who denies the story, and together they set a trap for Goshawk. When Goshawk comes to take Mistress Openwork to show her where her husband keeps his whore, intending instead to get her drunk and have sex with her, Openwork confronts them as they are about to leave. Mistress Openwork and he pretend to argue over the matter, and he claims that he will kill whoever told his wife about his whore. She reveals that it was Goshawk, who is chastened and forgiven.

PORTER

A servant attending on Moll Cutpurse. He carries Moll's viol to her chamber.

RALPH TRAPDOOR

A scoundrel that Sir Alexander Wengrave hires to entrap Moll Cutpurse. Trapdoor has Moll hire him as her servant so that he may spy on her for Sir Alexander. Trapdoor informs him that Moll will be meeting with Sebastian Wengrave in Sir Alexander's chamber, and Sir Alexander lays out valuables to tempt Moll into stealing them. After Moll becomes aware of Trapdoor's duplicity, she fires him, and she later encounters both him and Tearcat in the street disguised as poor soldiers. Trapdoor and Tearcat cant with her (i.e. speak criminal street slang), while she translates and explains it to Jack Dapper, Sir Thomas Long, Sir Beauteous Ganymede, and Lord Noland, giving them (and the audience) an education in purse cutting.

SEBASTIAN WENGRAVE

The beloved of Mary Fitzallard. Sebastian and Mary had been betrothed to each other, but their fathers Sir Alexander Wengrave and Sir Guy Fitzallard had a disagreement, and Sir Alexander forbade Sebastian from marrying her. Sebastian and Mary still love each other, though, and when Mary goes to Sebastian disguised as a seamstress, he explains his plan to force his father into allowing their marriage. Sebastian intends to let his father think he's in love with Moll Cutpurse and plans to marry her. Because Moll Cutpurse is so undesirable, Sebastian feels, Sir Alexander would be relieved for him to wed Mary. In the end, Sebastian and Mary do wed, and his father is relieved and happy to take her as his daughter-in-law.

SERGEANT CURTILAX

A court official of London and companion of Yeoman Hanger. Curtilax's name refers to a curtle ax, or cutlass, a short, curving broadsword with a single edge much favored by seamen. When Sir Davy Dapper files a false arrest warrant against his son Jack, Sergeant Curtilax and Yeoman Hanger are dispatched to arrest the young man. They are prevented from doing so, however, because of Moll Cutpurse's intervention.

SERVANT TO WENGRAVE

Servant to Sir Alexander Wengrave. The servant brings news to Sir Alexander that Sebastian and his bride have returned to London from being wed.

SIR ADAM APPLETON

Friend of Sir Alexander Wengrave. Sir Adam joins Sir Alexander, Sir Davy Dapper, and the gallants in Sir Alexander's parlor while he laments his son's decision to pursue Moll Cutpurse.

SIR ALEXANDER WENGRAVE

Father of Sebastian Wengrave. When Sir Alexander had a disagreement with Sir Guy Fitzallard, he forbade his son from marrying Mary Fitzallard. This causes Sebastian to devise a plan to force his father into agreeing to the wedding. He pretends that he wants to marry Moll Cutpurse instead, and because Moll is so undesirable, Sir Alexander will be relieved when Sebastian weds Mary instead. Sir Alexander is duly horrified at the prospect of his son marrying Moll, and gathers his friends Sir Adam Appleton, Sir Davy Dapper and the gallants in his parlor to lament his son's behavior. He hires Ralph Trapdoor to spy on Moll and to entrap her, and when Trapdoor tells him that Moll will meet with Sebastian in Sir Alexander's chamber, he leaves out valuables to tempt her into stealing them in order that he might have her arrested and sent to prison. When Moll fails to take the bait, Sir Alexander decides to give her money, intending later to claim that she stole it; she later returns the money to him. In the end, Sir Alexander is reconciled with Sir Guy, and, when Sebastian and Mary do wed, Sir Alexander is happy to take her as his daughter-in-law.

SIR BEAUTEOUS GANYMEDE

Friend of Moll Cutpurse. Sir Beauteous and Sir Thomas Long overhear Ralph Trapdoor saying that Jack Dapper was being held for ransom for his gambling debts; they tell Moll, who saves him. Sir Beauteous joins her, Jack Dapper, Sir Thomas, and Lord Noland when they are accosted by Trapdoor and Tearcat disguised as poor soldiers and by the cutpurses. Moll explains to him and the others the practice of canting and the profession of cutting purses. Later, Sir Beauteous and Lord Noland escort Mary Fitzallard to Sir Alexander Wengrave's home as Sebastian Wengrave's wife.

SIR DAVY DAPPER

Friend of Sir Alexander Wengrave and father of Jack Dapper. Sir Davy joins Sir Alexander, Sir Adam Appleton, and the gallants in Sir Alexander's parlor while he laments his son's decision to pursue Moll Cutpurse. Sir Davy is dismayed at his own son's behavior: Jack wastes his money on gambling and on his companions. Sir Davy files a false arrest warrant against Jack, thinking that time spent in jail will tame his son's spirits.

SIR GUY FITZALLARD

Father of Mary Fitzallard. Sir Guy and Sir Alexander Fitzallard had a disagreement, and Sir Alexander forbade his son Sebastian to marry Mary. In the end, Sir Guy and Sir Alexander are reconciled, and their children are happily wed.

SIR THOMAS LONG

Friend of Moll Cutpurse. Sir Thomas and Sir Beauteous Ganymede overhear Ralph Trapdoor saying that Jack Dapper was being held for ransom for his gambling debts; they tell Moll, who saves him. Sir Thomas joins her, Jack Dapper, Sir Beauteous, and Lord Noland when they are accosted by Trapdoor and Tearcat disguised as poor soldiers and by the cutpurses. Moll explains to him and the others the practice of canting and the profession of cutting purses.

TAILOR

A tailor of London. Moll Cutpurse hires the tailor to make her a suit of male apparel, and he later makes a male suit of clothes for Mary Fitzallard so that she can disguise herself and more easily meet with Sebastian Wengrave.

TEARCAT

A con artist and friend of Ralph Trapdoor. Tearcat's name means to rant and rave. He and Trapdoor disguise themselves as poor soldiers and accost Moll Cutpurse, Jack Dapper, Sir Beauteous Ganymede, Sir Thomas Long, and Lord Noland. The two cant with Moll (i.e. speak criminal street slang), while she translates and explains canting to the others, giving them (and the audience) a lesson in street wiles.

TILTYARD

A feather-seller of London. Tiltyard's name refers to courtyards used for jousting tournaments. Tiltyard is more interested in sport than work, leaving his wife Mistress Tiltyard to run his shop while he hunts.

YEOMAN HANGER

A court official of London and companion of Sergeant Curtilax. Hanger's name refers to the strap from which a sword hangs, while also implying "hangman," or executioner. When Sir Davy Dapper files a false arrest warrant against his son Jack Dapper, Yeoman Hanger and Sergeant Curtilax are dispatched to arrest the young man. They are prevented from doing so, however, when Moll Cutpurse intervenes.