the proposed play during the Prologue is called
possibly not long after 1596 (refers to expedition to Cadiz)
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
The unnamed Author of the play entitled Wily Beguiled is a "ghost character." When the Juggler replaces the Poet's play, entitled Spectrum, with a play entitled Wily Beguiled the Prologue invites the audience to see "our Author's play." According to the Prologue, this comedy will make their eyes flow with laughter.
This character says nothing but brings wine and a napkin to Gripe for Wil Cricket.
Churms is the wily knave of the title who is beguiled. He is the lawyer in whom Gripe places all his trust to deal with his debtors and also to establish the union between Lelia and Peter Ploddall. Churms desires Lelia, however, and with his friend Robin Goodfellow, plots to win her for himself. He suggests using Habeas Corpus to oust Ploddall's tenants who are behind with their rent while simultaneously suggesting the union of their children. When Ploddall and Gripe meet, Churms reminds the latter to have some of Ploddall's land conveyed to him to make up for the money Peter Ploddall will get when he marries Lelia. Churms explains his secret intentions to his friend Robin Goodfellow. While he is acting on Gripe's behalf to persuade Lelia to marry Peter Ploddall, he alone will gain access to Lelia. When Lelia has him carry messages to Sophos, the man Lelia loves, Churms will not hand over her messages but will instead read them and so learn of Sophos's plans. He tells Robin to work on Peter Ploddall and to convince him that Robin Goodfellow can make Lelia love him. Churms then tells Sophos that he will aid Sophos in his love for Lelia. He then tells Gripe that he will work to make Lelia accept Peter Ploddall. He then declares his own love to Lelia. She rejects him but agrees to be his friend, and he agrees to persuade her father to let her make her own choice in love. He is delighted that she has agreed to be his friend, anticipating more to follow, and that despite her father, she refuses to hold Peter Ploddall's hand. He has a scheme for making money from Gripe's debtors, and that Sophos has been entrusting him with letters for Lelia. Robin announces his plans to dress up and frighten Sophos in the woods. When Lelia asks Charms to go with her the next night to a friend's, two days' journey away, Churms is overjoyed. He makes clear that he will need money for the excursion with Lelia, and will gain it from Gripe's debtors by offering to forgive their debts in exchange for a small proportion of what they owe Gripe. He arrives in the woods expecting to take Lelia on the long journey, instead, he is attacked by Fortunatus who has been lying in wait. He must flee after it is clear Lelia loves Sophos and not him. When Churms meets Robin Goodfellow later and learns that Goodfellow has not succeeded in frightening Sophos away, the two leave to go to a place where they are unknown and there set up their knavery afresh.
The clerk is called by Wil Cricket to arrange for his marriage to Pegge. He explains that Sir John (the vicar) won't be able to call the banns at evening service the next Sunday because a band of players will be present and Sir John will not leave their company. The vicar will be working with them to build a stage.
Fortunatus is Gripe's son, Lelia's brother, and Sophos's friend. He returns from war and in the woods overhears Robin Goodfellow explaining all that he and Churms are planningin particular, Goodfellow's plan to dress up like a hob-goblin to frighten Sophos in the woods. Fortunatus swears that he will not rest until he has avenged the wrongs about to be done to Sophos. He finds Sophos sleeping in the woods and tells him that Churms is not to be trusted. He hatches a plan: the nurse is to have Lelia contact Churms to convince him that she loves him and that she will marry him if he can spirit her from her house, through the wood, and to a friend's house far away. The following night, Fortunatus and Sophos are in the woods waiting for Lelia and Churms. When Robin Goodfellow tries to terrify Sophos, Fortunatus forces him to stand on a stool and makes him confess his misdeeds practiced on great men and spouses. Fortunatus beats him, and he runs away. Immediately after, Fortunatus defends Lelia from Churms's wooing, and when Lelia makes it clear with a kiss that her love is for Sophos, not Churms, Fortunatus and Sophos beat Churms until he flees. Fortunatus observes of Churms that a crafty knave was never so beguiled. Having avenged himself on these two "imps" Fortunatus resolves to work to have his father consent to Sophos and Lelia's marriage. He does this when Gripe is persuaded that Lelia has eloped with Churms, the lawyer in whom he had placed all his trust, and then persuading him that he can win Lelia back only if he will allow her to marry Sophos. He returns with the two, and the wedding is agreed for the next day.
He acts the part of the Prologue and opens the play by calling for the players to come out and entertain the audience. When a player appears he criticises him for wanting to do Spectrum, an inferior play, yet again. The Prologue reluctantly begins a prologue for Spectrum, a "looking glass," announcing that it will be full of base conceits and "damned roguery." Then Juggler appears, asking for a play that is not melancholy and shows sleight of hand. He conveys Spectrum away and "stands Wily Beguiled in place of it." See more at PROLOGUE.
Gripe is a rich moneylender. His son, Fortunatus, is off at the wars. He has a daughter, Lelia, whom he wishes to marry to the rustic son of the rich neighbouring farmer, Ploddall. He trusts his lawyer Churms to write a letter proposing the match between Peter Ploddall and Lelia. Having confirmed his suspicions about Lelia's love for Sophos, Gripe forbids Sophos to enter his property again. Gripe announces he will lock Lelia away and places all his trust in Churms to make her marry Ploddall. Throughout the play, unknown to Gripe, Churms acts on his own behalf. With Churms as witness Gripe calls in Lelia to hold Peter Ploddall's hand as a sign of their intended marriage. When she refuses, Gripe locks her away, much to Churms's delight. At the end of the play, Gripe suffers two calamities. The nurse first tells him that Lelia has run off with Churms and then Wil Cricket enters and reveals that Churms has forgiven all Gripe's debtors in exchange for a small proportion from each, which Churms has kept for himself. Gripe is in despair until Fortunatus arrives to tell his father that he will bring Lelia back if only he will allow her to marry Sophos. Gripe agrees. When Fortunatus returns with Lelia and Sophos (who have been waiting for him) their marriage is arranged for the next day.
Jack is the Juggler's apprentice and a "mute character" or possibly a "ghost character." When the Juggler wants to show the Prologue some of his tricks, he calls in his apprentice Jack, but immediately says that he is gone. Jack is possibly the image of the play Spectrum that the Juggler causes to vanish.
The Juggler enters just when the Prologue prepares to deliver the opening of a play entitled Spectrum. Seeing that the Prologue looks depressed for having to introduce a poor play, the Juggler offers to cheer him up by some trick of legerdemain or deceptio visus. When the Prologue sends him away to fetch the actors for the play entitled Spectrum, the Juggler responds that he is no intermediary but rather a juggler skilled in many tricks. Since the Prologue wants to see some of his tricks, the Juggler magically conveys away the image of the play entitled Spectrum and conjures the figure of the comedy entitled Wily Beguiled.
Lelia is the daughter of Gripe. She loves the impoverished scholar Sophos, but her father intends her to marry the simple but rich rustic, Peter Ploddall. She is also the object of the machinations of her father's dishonest lawyer, Churms. She rejects Peter Ploddall from the start. When Churms announces his love her, she refuses him but agrees to be his friend when he tells her he will try to persuade Gripe to let her make a free choice for marriage. Despite her father's instructions she refuses to hold Peter Ploddall's hand as a sign of their betrothal. Gripe is furious. She is mewed up in the house. Later the nurse tells her of Fortunatus's plan to have Lelia and Sophos meet each other the following night. In order to escape the house, Lelia tells Churms that she dislikes Sophos but that her father would never allow her to marry Churms. She asks Churms to take her to a friend's house the following night, a two days' journey through the woods. She promises that when they reach her friend's house, she will give Churms her heart. In the woods, when Sophos and Fortunatus accost Churms, she rejects Churms and chooses Sophos by kissing him. After Fortunatus chases Churms off, Lelia and Sophos spent the rest of the night in the woods to listen to a song and await better fortune. Meantime, Fortunatus gains Gripe's permission for their marriage, she returns with Sophos to her father where a wedding for the next day is arranged.
She is Lelia's nurse and mother of the rebellious Pegge. See under NURSE.
She is the mother of Lelia's Nurse and grandmother of Pegge. She has been looking after Pegge in her own home but finds her so disobedient that she wants to return her to her mother. The nurse persuades her to let her daughter, Pegge, stay another week. Mother Midnight invites Pegge and Wil to her house for a bag barley pudding and some beer so that he will know how to find their house another time. Later she promises Pegge a variety of pots and dishes for setting up house with Wil and then invites them back for more bag pudding. She is present at the end of the play when Wil and Pegge agree to marry the following day, and in this way she rids herself of Pegge.
Also called Marget. She is Lelia's nurse and mother of the rebellious Pegge. She informs Lelia of the unhappy news that Gripe has arranged for Lelia to be married to Peter Ploddall. When she finds that Lelia loves Sophos, she encourages Sophos to woo Lelia. She dislikes Churms, finding him too smooth to be trustworthy; nevertheless, when Churms declares his love for Lelia, the nurse asks him, as the sole adviser of Lelia's father, to persuade Gripe to let her make her own choice in marriage. Later in the woods the nurse meets Sophos. She describes to him Gripe's unkindness to Lelia and chastises Sophos for not contacting Lelia for a fortnight (his letters have not been delivered owing to the machinations of Churms.) Fortunatus devises a plan, which the nurse reports to Lelia, to help the pair. This requires the nurse to have Lelia contact Churms to convince him that Lelia does not love Sophos and actually loves Churms, and that she will marry him if he can get her out of her father's house and to a friend's house far away. The nurse, as part of the development of Fortunatus's plot, tells Gripe that Lelia has run off with Churms. She is present at the end of the play when Lelia and Sophos return and it is agreed that Lelia and Sophos will marry the next day
NYMPHS and SATYRS
They appear in a short scene where they sing a song for Sophos as he sleeps in the woods.
He is father of Wil Cricket and tenant of Ploddall to whom he owes rent.
She is the daughter of Lelia's nurse, and granddaughter of Mother Midnight. She has been thoroughly rebellious and dislikes being watched over by grandmother and mother. Despite many suitors she privately agrees to marry Wil Cricket, with the audience as witness. She and Wil accompany Mother Midnight back to Mother Midnight's house for a bag barley pudding. Her marriage to Wil is arranged to take place along with that of Lelia and Sophos.
He is son of Ploddall the famer, and the man Gripe wishes to have his daughter marry because of his income. He is unsophisticated in asking Goodfellow, who is acting on Churms's behalf, how he should court Lelia. He buys a powder from Goodfellow that he believes will cause her to fall in love with him. When, at his father's instructions, he comes wooing Lelia, his conversation is pedestrian, concentrated as it is on describing his livestock. Lelia refuses to hold his hand as a sign of their betrothal, despite her father's instructions. He is last seen as he goes off to the Justice with his father to have Robin Goodfellow whipped out of the county for having swindled them.
The Player rehearsing a play tells the Prologue that the play's title is Spectrum. The Prologue chases the Player away with curses upon the play and those who would stoop so low as to perform in it. Perhaps the Player represents later the image of the play entitled Spectrum, which the Juggler conjures away replacing it with the play entitled Wily Beguiled.
He is a farmer and father of Peter Ploddall. His tenant ("old man") owes him rent. He is pleased with Gripe's plan for the marriage of Lelia and Peter but thinks Lelia will find his son too simple. When Peter explains how he has given Goodfellow forty groats for a powder to win Lelia to him, Ploddall scoffs; nevertheless he sends forty shillings and a hard cheese for Goodfellow, if he succeeds in pairing Peter with Lelia. When Wil Cricket, son of his tenant, tells Ploddall he is to be married, Ploddall in jest or simpleminded ignorance discharges him his debts. He expresses interest in the fact that Robin Goodfellow will be at Wil's wedding since he has also promised to help Peter Ploddall. He last appears setting off to see the local Justice to have Goodfellow whipped out of the county for his dishonesty.
The Poet is the author of the play entitled Spectrum and a "ghost character." When the Prologue learns that the actors are rehearsing a play entitled Spectrum, he criticizes it but says he has no choice but to provide the prologue to it. Seeing the Juggler, the Prologue sends him backstage to tell the "fiery Poet," who is the author of this play, that he will be forced to do penance on a stage in a calf's skin. When the Juggler magically replaces the play entitled Spectrum with a comedy entitled Wily Beguiled, the Prologue sends the Juggler to the Poet to tell him that he has lost the title of his play. The Poet's name is probably Wily and the Prologue makes a pun on this name. He says that, since the play has been banished from the stage, being replaced with Wily Beguiled, everybody can see that Wily has been beguiled.
The Prologue is named George. He rushes the actors rehearsing a play to come forth and perform because the audience is growing impatient. The Prologue asks one Player what play is to be performed and wonders why Spectrum is to be performed again. Describing the play disapprovingly as "nothing but patch-pannell stuffe" and "cotton candle eloquence," the Prologue sends the Player away. Despite his contempt for this play, the Prologue reluctantly says he has nothing to do but watch Spectrum and provide its Prologue. This play is a looking glass where one may read a story of deceit and villainy. When the Juggler appears and offers to cheer him up, the Prologue sends him to fetch the actors for the play and tell the Poet he will be forced to do penance upon the stage in a calf's skin. The allusion is to the ancient origin of drama, when the actors performed in a goat's skin. The Juggler refuses to act as a go-between, so the Prologue wants to watch some of the Juggler's tricks. When the magician conjures away the image of the play entitled Spectrum replacing it with a play entitled Wily Beguiled, the Prologue gives him twelve pence for his labor and sends him to the Poet to tell him that he has lost the title of his play. Since the Poet's name is possibly Wily, the Prologue makes a pun and says that, by losing his play's title, Wily is beguiled. The Prologue announces the comedy Wily Beguiled, which is expected to be very entertaining. The Prologue concludes by saying that he must be silent now and let the play speak, inviting the actors in.
Not the mischievous fairy but rather a confidence trickster and helper to Churms. He agrees to help Churms in his scheming by trying to convince Peter Ploddall that he has a powder that will cause Lelia to fall in love. Robin also agrees to indict Sophos for the rape "of some strumpet or other," whom they will hire, causing him to be abandoned by his friend Fortunatus (Lelia's brother) and by Lelia. He tells Peter Ploddall he will frighten off Sophos, explains how to court Lelia, and sells him the magic powder. Later he explains aloud in the woods that he will steal more money from Peter Ploddall while Churms steals Lelia from the same simple rustic. He will amuse himself by dressing up as a hob-goblin and frightening Sophos. When he tries to terrify Sophos, Fortunatus forces him to stand on a stool and makes him confess the troubles he causes great men by pretending to be their friend, and man and wife by making them fall out with each other. Fortunatus beats him and he runs away. Later he meets Ploddall and Peter, who doubt that they will get their money back and set off to the Justice to complain about Robin. Churms arrives asking Robin Goodfellow how well he has done in frightening Sophos. After hearing that he has been unsuccessful they leave to go someplace where they are unknown and there to set up their knavery afresh.
SATYRS and NYMPHS
They appear in a short scene where they sing a song for Sophos as he sleeps in the woods.
A "ghost character." The vicar of the local church. He won't be able to call the banns at evening service the next Sunday because a band of players will be present, and Sir John will not leave their company. He will be working with them to build a stage.
A man of high sensitivity but little money who loves Lelia. He raises the subject of his love, with her father, Gripe, pointing out that he is neither rich nor poor. Gripe rejects him. Sophos wanders in the woods alone lamenting his luck and falls asleep there. Nymphs and satyrs sing around him, and when he awakes sunken-eyed and love-lorn he tells Fortunatus, who has been looking for him, of his love for Lelia, Fortunatus's sister. He reveals that Churms is his go-between. Fortunatus tells him not to trust Churms. Sophos despairs at the chaos of the world. Following Fortunatus's plans to help him, the next night he enters the woods with his friend in order to meet Lelia. In the woods, as he awaits Lelia with Fortunatus, he continues to lament but recovers himself after Fortunatus beats Churms. Later in the woods Fortunatus chases off Churms, and Lelia and Sophos spend the rest of the night in the woods awaiting better fortune while listening to a song. With Fortunatus, he returns with Lelia to Gripe and it is agreed that they will marry the next day.
In a very brief scene he summons nymphs and satyrs to sing around Sophos as he sleeps in the wood.
He is the son of "old man" who owes rent to Ploddall. His directness and simplemindedness are comic. He claims to be close to marriage with Pegge (daughter of Lelia's nurse and granddaughter of Mother Midnight) although he's never spoken to her. He tells his father's landlord Ploddall that Sophos is beloved of Lelia and that Peter won't stand a chance. Later he meets Pegge in the woods, and with Mother Midnight they all go back for bag barley pudding and a beer at her house. He has his debts discharged by his father's landlord, Ploddall. He calls a clerk to get the church's permission for his wedding with Pegge. Among the guests will be Robin Goodfellow. Adding to Gripe's misery at losing his daughter to Churms, Wil Cricket reveals that Churms has forgiven all of Gripe's debtors in exchange for a small proportion from each, which Churms has kept for himself. Wil acts as a sort of master of ceremonies at the end of the play. He arranges for his own marriage and announces Fortunatus's arrival with Lelia and Sophos. He proposes a double marriage for the next day.
The author of the play entitled Spectrum, who is a "ghost character," might be named Wily. The Prologue makes a pun on this name. He says that, since his play has been banished from the stage, being replaced with Wily Beguiled, everybody can see that Wily has been beguiled.