FAIR EM, THE MILLER'S DAUGHTER
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
The Danish Ambassador arrives in England to inform King William that King Zweno will invade if his daughter Blanch is not returned. William, who does not realize he has stolen Blanch by mistake, scoffs at him.
Blanch is the daughter of Zweno, King of Denmark. Marquis Lubeck carries a portrait of her on his shield, and William the Conqueror falls in love with the image. William travels in disguise to Denmark with the aim of wooing her, but is disappointed when the real-life Blanch turns out to be ugly. Blanch loves William, but he spurns her in favor of Mariana, who does not love him. Mariana and Blanch conspire to resolve the situation with trickery. Mariana tells William that she agrees to elope with him, but it is really Blanch, in a veil, whom William takes back to England. Blanch is kept by Duke Dirot until the wedding, and therefore William does not discover her trickery until Zweno and his army arrive to reclaim her. When William realizes what has happened, he refuses to marry Blanch and spurns the female sex as inconstant. But when he meets the constant Em, abused by her inconstant suitor, he reconsiders, and decides to marry Blanch after all.
CITIZEN of WESTCHESTER
The Citizen is the father of Elner, whom Manvile woos after he has spurned Em. He approves the match, but is disturbed when Valingford warns him of Manvile's inconstancy.
Duke Dirot is an English lord appointed co-governor with Earl Demarch while William is away. In William's absence, he and Demarch get into a civil war, but this is apparently forgotten as soon as William returns. Dirot keeps 'Mariana' (i.e. Blanch) until the wedding night, with the result that William does not realize that he has eloped with the wrong woman until her father arrives to reclaim her.
Earl Demarch is an English lord appointed co-governor with Dirot while William is away. In William's absence, he and Dirot get into a civil war, but this seems to be forgotten as soon as William returns. He accompanies William in his confrontation with Zweno in the conclusion.
Elner is a Citizen's daughter of Westchester. Manvile woos her after he has rejected Em for her blindness. Elner is worried when Valingford warns her about Manvile's treatment of Em, but she chooses not to believe him. Before King William, Manvile tries to return to Em when he learns that her blindness was feigned. Elner contests Em's right to marry Manvile, but when Em rejects Manvile for his inconstancy, Elner is so disgusted by his behavior that she rejects him too.
Em is the eponymous miller's daughter. Her father is a Saxon nobleman who has become a miller of Manchester after the Norman Conquest. Em is in love with Manvile, but he becomes jealous when she chats with Mountney and Valingford. In order to assuage his jealousy, Em spurns Mountney, and returns the jewel that Valingford tries to give her; she then pretends to be deaf and blind in order to dissuade the unwanted suitors. But her act is so convincing that Manvile is repulsed by her affliction too, and he rejects her. Valingford, meanwhile, suspects a trick. When Valingford tells Em that Manvile is now wooing Elner, Em drops her act and is heartbroken. Before King William, Em explains her reason for feigning blindness, and Manvile tries to return to her. Elner contests Em's right to marry Manvile, but when Em rejects Manvile for his inconstancy, Elner is so disgusted by his behavior that she rejects him too. King William then tells Em to marry Valingford, and she accedes. William's sympathy for Em causes him to accept Blanch, whom he had previously rejected for his wife.
Lubeck is a Danish marquis living in England. He is a good friend of King William. He carries on his shield an image of the Danish princess Blanch (not because he loves her, but as a sign of loyalty to the crown). William is entranced by the image, and visits the Danish court in disguise, accompanied by Lubeck. But William finds that the real Blanch is ugly and instead falls in love with Lubeck's love, Mariana. During a masqued ball, Lubeck scuffles with William and is injured. But his friendship with William is so strong that he tells Mariana that he would prefer her to marry William rather than break his ties with his friend. The two women trick William into eloping with Blanch rather than Mariana, and King Zweno imprisons Lubeck on suspicion of complicity. Lubeck is brought to England with Zweno and shows William how he has suffered for William's actions.
An English courtier, beloved of Em. Manvile woos Em in the guise of a countryman. He overhears Valingford and Mountney 'ruminating' on Em, and becomes jealous when he learns that she has been talking to them. But when Em pretends to be blind and deaf, Manvile rejects her and instead woos Elner, a citizen's daughter. Before King William, Em explains that she feigned blindness in order to dissuade her unwanted suitors and assuage Manvile's jealousy. Realizing his mistake, Manvile tries to return to her, but Em rejects him for his inconstancy, and Elner rejects him too. Manvile resolves to detest "such idle love."
A Swedish princess held hostage in the Danish court. She and Lubeck are in love. But when Lubeck brings King William in disguise, to woo Blanch, William falls for Mariana instead. Mariana is not interested, even when William reveals his true identity. She is offended when Lubeck tells her that he would prefer she married William rather than force him to break his bonds of friendship. Mariana and Blanch conspire to resolve the situation with trickery. Mariana tells William that she agrees to elope with him, but it is really Blanch, in a veil, whom William takes back to England. Zweno imprisons Mariana on suspicion of complicity in Blanch's disappearance. In the conclusion it is Mariana who explains to William how he abducted the wrong woman. Her behavior causes William to reject all women as inconstant and it is not until he witnesses Em's constancy that he changes his mind.
Brings a letter to Mariana from 'Robert of Windsor.' The jealous Blanch snatches it from him.
The Miller is the father of Em. He is a Saxon nobleman, Sir Thomas Goddard, but after the invasion of William the Conqueror, he has become simply 'Old Goddard,' the Miller of Manchester. When his true identity is revealed at the end of the play, William embraces him as a fellow nobleman.
Moutney is an English courtier. He is a sworn friend of Valingford, but they are both in love with Em, whom they woo disguised as commoners (because they have absconded from accompanying King William to Denmark). They are annoyed to discover that they are both wooing Em, but they agree to abide by fortune's choice in the matter. Em spurns Moutney. He therefore assumes that she prefers Valingford and quarrels with him, but he learns that Valingford has also been spurned. They return to Em, but she pretends to be deaf and blind, and so Moutney rejects her.
The name by which the Miller is known after the Norman invasion.
Only mentioned by Mariana. Penelope was the wife of Odysseus. Mariana compares herself to Penelope, because she too is constant to the man she loved and rebuffs unwanted suitors such as William.
A Danish lord attendant on King Zweno. He informs Zweno that Blanch, not Mariana, was stolen by 'Robert.' He accompanies Zweno during his confrontation with King William in the play's conclusion.
A "ghost character." One of King William's physicians, to whom Moutney says he will go for assistance in wooing Em. No further mention is made of Alberto.
SIR EDMUND TRAFFORD
Only mentioned by the Miller and King William. A Saxon nobleman who disguised himself as a peasant after the invasion of William the Conqueror. The Miller is in the same situation.
SIR ROBERT of WINDSOR
The disguise taken on by King William the Conqueror during his visit to the Danish court.
SIR THOMAS GODDARD
The real name of the Miller.
Leader of a troop of soldiers who arrest King William the Conqueror on his return to Britain, because they do not recognize him. The mistake is swiftly resolved but in the meantime causes the separation of William from the woman with whom he has eloped, supposedly Mariana but actually Blanch disguised.
Trotter is the Miller's clownish servant. He is in love with Em. He claims to be overworked and asks Em to restore his health by marrying him. He is hostile to Manvile and the other suitors.
Valingford is an English courtier. He is a sworn friend of Moutney, but they are both in love with Em, whom they woo disguised as commoners (because they have absconded from accompanying King William to Denmark). They are annoyed to discover that they are both wooing Em, but they agree to abide by fortune's choice in the matter. Valingford offers Em a jewel, but she refuses it. He therefore assumes that she prefers Moutney and quarrels with him, but he learns that Moutney has also been spurned. They return to Em, but she pretends to be deaf and blind. Valingford appears to reject her, but in fact he suspects trickery. When he learns that Manvile has turned his attention to Elner, he warns Elner about Manvile's treatment of Em. Then he tells Em about Manvile's inconstancy. At this news, Em drops her pretence of blindness. In the conclusion, King William recommends that Em marry Valingford, and she accedes.
King William the Conqueror falls in love with the image of the princess Blanch of Denmark on Lubeck's shield. Accompanied by Lubeck, he visits the Danish court, disguised as 'Sir Robert of Windsor.' But when he meets the real Blanch, he is disappointed to find that she is ugly. He prefers Lubeck's beloved, Mariana, but she is unimpressed. During a masqued ball, William scuffles with Lubeck over Mariana, and he is thrown in prison. On his release, he reveals his true identity to Mariana in the hope of persuading her to come to England. Mariana remains uninterested and conspires with Blanch to resolve the situation by trickery. Mariana tells William that she agrees to elope with him, but it is really Blanch, in a veil, whom William takes back to England. Upon arrival in England, William is delayed somewhat when some soldiers arrest him because they do not recognize him; he is then separated from 'Mariana' and does not realize that he has been tricked. He is thus bewildered when King Zweno demands the return of Blanch, and only when Zweno arrives with an army is the truth of the switch revealed. Zweno offers Blanch as William's wife anyway, but William is furious and abjures all women for their inconstancy. When he sees the constancy of Em, however, abused by inconstant men, he changes his mind and decides to marry Blanch despite her looks. He then tells Em to marry Valingford.
YOUNG MEN and MAIDS
Offstage, Young Men and Maids are heard to harass Trotter by calling for grist.
Zweno is the King of Denmark. He is furious when King William steals Mariana from his court, and is even angrier when he learns that it was Blanch, not Mariana, that William stole. He blames Lubeck and Mariana, and imprisons them. Then he takes an army to England to demand Blanch's return. When William realizes that he has stolen the wrong woman, he apologizes. Zweno offers to let him marry Blanch anyway and is offended when William refuses her. But in the conclusion William, instructed by witnessing Em's constancy, changes his mind and decides to marry Blanch, so all is well.