LOVE AND HONOR, or
THE COURAGE OF LOVE
THE MATCHLESS MAIDS
licensed 20 November 1634
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Altesto is a solider. He is a friend of Frivolo, Tristan and Vasco, but also serves Propsero and so serves as a link between the plot and subplot. After the battle, he announces that he has captured a maid, Melora, in addition to two chests of the plate. Altesto is given the charge of taking Evandra to Prospero's house, but returns her to Prospero when asked. The Duke, who wishes to kill Evandra to repay the death of his brother, threatens to rack Altesto to discover her location, but is satisfied when Altesto admits he returned her to Prospero. Altesto tells his friends how dainty and modest his prisoner Melora is, and that he is in love with her, but when Prospero asks that Melora be handed over to wait on Evandra, he agrees at once. With Frivolo, he helps to convince the Widow to marry Vasco, all the while mocking her for her age and weakness. When Melora presents herself to the Duke as Evandra, Altesto recognizes her, but is silenced by Vasco. When the Duke tells Vasco to have a group of soldiers guard Melora and Evandra, he deputizes Altesto to gather the men, while commenting that it is hardly necessary. Altesto also mocks the need to guard two women locked in a prison, but does as requested.
A "ghost character." Altesto comments that he has sent his prisoner to his mother's house.
Alvaro is the Prince of Savoy and son of the Duke. He praises Vasco for his feats in battle, but when he discovers that Prospero has taken Evandra hostage, Alvaro is outraged that he would do so, and worried what will happen when she is presented to his father. He threatens to kill Prospero for acting like a beast, and even after he is stopped by Calladine, he tells Prospero never to come near him unless he can restore Evandra's liberty. Once Evandra is safely hidden in Prospero's cave, they reconcile. Alvaro visits Evandra and promises that he will do all he can to get her home and that he will not compromise her in any way. He then attempts to reason with the Duke, pointing out that Evandra had nothing to do with the death of the Duke's brother, and that it would be a nobler act to break his vow to execute her than to keep it. The Duke's response is to give him one day to produce Evandra, or die in her place, which Alvaro accepts. He goes to make his final farewell to Evandra, but when she hears he is going to die for her, she tricks him into descending into the cave, and locks him in. He and Prospero are freed by Leonell, and all three mourn Evandra's loss. Alvaro reconciles Prospero and Leonell and declares that since all three love Evandra, they are brothers. Together, they travel to the prison where Evandra and Melora are held. Alvaro tells the women that all three begged on their knees that they be released, but to no avail, so they have come to see them die. Prospero and Leonell are for fighting, but Alvaro declares they are beyond help and that the men must instead watch the women executed and then die themselves (it is not clear if he believes they will spontaneously die, or that they should commit suicide). Once the Duke of Milan and the Duke's brother reveal themselves, Alvaro asks the Duke to forgive Prospero, so that all can be happy. The Duke does so at once, and then suggests that he be married to Evandra to seal the joy. Melora steps in and announces that not only does she love Alvaro, but that he is promised to her, five years ago. Alvaro remembers that he did swear to marry her if their fathers ever made peace and happily agrees to be joined to her, stating that his love for Evandra is changed to peace at seeing her happily joined to Leonell.
AMBASSADORS, FIRST and SECOND
Two men disguised as ambassadors figure in the play.
- The First Ambassador is the disguise of the Duke of Milan, which he wears to gain entrance to the Duke's court and to attempt Evandra's release.
- The Second Ambassador is the disguise of the Duke's Brother, who works with the First Ambassador in trying to assist Evandra.
The Boy is a singer. He appears first to sing a love song to Vasco after his wedding day (on the urging of Frivolo and Tristan), and then to sing a mourning song outside of the prison where Evandra and Melora are held (at the request of Alvaro, Leonelle and Prospero).
Calladine is a counselor of the Duke. He fights on the battlefield with Alvaro and receives praise for his actions. When Alvaro discovers that Propsero has taken Evandra hostage, and threatens his life, Calladine is the one who stops him and makes the suggestion that Prospero hide Evandra until she can be freed or the Duke's plan to execute her can be changed. After Evandra is successfully hidden, Calladine brings the message to Alvaro and Prospero that the Duke is enraged. Alvaro goes to comfort him and Prospero confesses to Calladine that he has fallen in love with Evandra. Calladine is saddened that the two friends are in love with the same woman, and tells Prospero to be careful. Melora, pretending to be Evandra, seeks out Calladine and asks that she be taken to the Duke. However, Calladine is so impressed with her beauty and courage that he does not have the heart to take her to certain death. When Melora asks him to see that "Melora" (actually Evandra) is sent to Milan, Calladine instead plans to present her to the Duke. Evandra, of course, understands what is happening and gladly consents to go in "Evandra"'s place. They arrive after Melora has presented herself to the Duke as Evandra, and the Duke decides both will die since both claim to be Evandra. In the folio version of the play, Calladine is the one who leads Alvaro, Propsero and Leonell to the prison where Melora and Evandra are kept. He passes on to Vasco the Duke's command that a guard be assembled for the women. He meets with the Duke of Milan and the brother of the Duke (disguised as Ambassadors), and hopes that they can sway the Duke, so he leads them to the Duke, where all is revealed.
Singers. They sing the chorus of the love song requested by Frivolo and Tristan on the morning of Vasco's wedding to the Widow.
DUKE of SAVOY
The Duke of Savoy lost his brother ten years ago in a battle with the Duke of Milan. He believes his brother was killed. Therefore, when he hears that Evandra, the daughter of the Duke has been taken prisoner, he swears he will have her executed to repay the debt. When Evandra is hidden from him, he is enraged and threatens to torture Prospero for her location. When his son, Alvaro, begs him to change his mind, the Duke is further enraged and declares that if Evandra is not presented by the next day, he will execute Alvaro in her place. Both Evandra and Melora present themselves to him, and since neither will admit which is the true Evandra, he orders them both killed. Two Ambassadors arrive from Milan to beg for their lives. The Duke refuses and Leonell then steps forward to ask if a man allied to the Duke of Milan's family will be a suitable replacement. When the Duke agrees, Leonell reveals himself as the Duke of Parma's son, and allied to Milan. The Duke agrees to kill Leonell instead of Evandra, whereupon the First Ambassador reveals that he is the Duke of Milan himself, ready to die for both. The Second Ambassador then reveals himself as the Duke's lost brother, and instead of executions, there are reunions, reconciliation, and marriages.
The Duke's Brother was lost and presumed dead in a battle with Milan, ten years ago. It is his death which causes the Duke to declare that Evandra must be executed. In fact, the Duke's brother has spent the last ten years hidden away from public life by the Duke of Milan, to prevent him from continuing the war. The Duke's Brother enters Savoy disguised as the Second Ambassador to plead for Evandra's life. When the Duke refuses to change his mind, his brother reveals himself and announces that he has been completely happy living a studious and retired life. His appearance overjoys the Duke, and all plans for revenge or war are put aside.
DUKE of MILAN
The Duke of Milan enters Savoy in disguise as the First Ambassador. He has hopes of pleading for Evandra's life. The Duke refuses, although he changes his plans to executing Leonell when the latter reveals himself as the son of the Duke of Parma. When the Duke remains firm, the Duke of Milan reveals himself and declares that he will take Leonell's place, a plan which suits the Duke. All the deaths are averted by the revelation that the Second Ambassador is actually the lost Duke's brother.
An unnamed Epilogue makes a standard request for praise, or at least that the censure be spoken so softly it will not disturb the author.
Evandra is the daughter of the Duke of Milan. She is captured in battle by Prospero and protests his treatment of her. Despite her protests, he has her transported to his house by Altesto. Once there, she is placed in a secret cave, on the orders to Alvaro and Prospero, to protect her from the Duke, who seeks her death as revenge for his brother's disappearance and presumed murder. She is visited in the cave by Alvaro and Propsero, and expresses gratitude for her safety and fear that they will be caught. Her noble attitude causes Prospero to fall in love with her. When Prospero brings Melora to keep her company, both she and Evandra express sorrow that the other has been captured. Leonell joins them, and begs forgiveness for not fighting better, but Evandra insists that he could not have fought better, and suggests that the three of them sit and mourn together. Alvaro then visits Evandra to tell her he will die in her place and to say goodbye, but Evandra tricks him into entering the cave, claiming she fears there is someone in there. She locks him in, and then asks Prospero to take him food and water. Foolishly, he does as she asks, and ends up locked in with her. Evandra then ask Leonell to swear by his love for her that he will do whatever she requests, and when he does, tells him to stay behind and open the cave door when she has left. She plans to surrender to the Duke, but Melora in turn tricks her and attempts to pass herself off as Evandra to spare her friend's life. This plan is foiled when Calladine is so moved by the fake Evandra that instead of escorting the real Evandra out of the city, he takes her to the Duke. Both women claim to be Evandra and so the Duke decides to have them both executed. They are visited in their prison by Alvaro, Leonell and Propsero, and then prepared for execution. Before they can be killed, Leonell reveals himself as the Duke of Parma's son and the Duke agrees to let him take their place. At this point the Ambassadors reveal themselves as the Duke of Milan and the Duke's lost brother. In joy at his brother's return, the Duke forgives everyone and offers to marry Alvaro to Evandra, but Melora steps forward to press a prior claim. This allows Evandra to be married to her true love, Leonell.
Frivolo is a soldier, a friend of Vasco, Altesto, and Tristan. He serves as part of the comic relief, but also provides the main exposition. In the first scene, he jokes about injuries and the captured general's plate, but when it is revealed that Evandra's life is in danger, Frivolo is the one sent to overtake Altesto and bring her back. He returns with the news that she has already been taken to town. Later, Frivolo enters with the news that it has been proclaimed that all female prisoners must be set free after a year, unless they consent to marry their captors, and that during that year, the men must maintain them at their own expense, while respecting the women's chastity. He then explains that the Duke plans to execute Evandra because of his brother's supposed death at the hands of the Duke of Milan. Frivolo comes up with the idea that Lelia can help persuade the Widow into accepting Vasco and, with the others, mocks the Widow's advanced age. He agrees to marry Lelia, since her mother is wealthy. He is present, with the others, when both Evandra and Melora are taken to prison on the Duke's orders, and objects to the job of being an executioner of a maiden. When the Duke tells Vasco to gather a guard, Frivolo says he will find a regiment that will be invisible to justice, but returns in the end to mock Vasco's marriage to the Widow, who refuses to die.
Lelia is a prisoner, captured by Frivolo. Frivolo suggests that she serve Vasco's captured Widow, and help to persuade her to marry Vasco, which she does. When Vasco and the others make fun of her, which she cannot hear, Lelia pretends they have said romantic, or at least polite, things. Even after the wedding, Lelia is still in the position of translating what the men say into more acceptable material. However, for her trouble, and because her mother is wealthy, Frivolo agrees to marry her.
A "ghost character." Alvaro urges Frivolo to marry Lelia and mentions as incentive that Lelia's mother is rich in pewter and wine.
Leonell is the son of the Duke of Parma, but does not reveal this until the last scene. He is badly wounded and captured by Prospero, but is only concerned with Evandra's safety. After he is somewhat recovered, Prospero takes Leonell to Evandra's secret cave to keep her company. Leonell immediately begs forgiveness for the sin of allowing her to be captured, but Evandra insists that he could have done no more. Prospero and Leonell almost duel when they discover that both love Evandra, but they are distracted by Alvaro's arrival to tell Evandra that he will be dying in her place. She tricks both Prospero and Alvaro into entering the cave and locks them in. She then ask Leonell to swear by his love for her that he will do whatever she requests, and when he does, tells him to stay behind and open the cave door when she has left. He does so, and Alvaro declares since all three love Evandra, they are brothers and cannot fight. Instead, they decide to visit her in prison to say farewell. Just before the Duke has her executed, Leonell reveals himself as the Duke of Parma's son, declares that it was actually his father that captured the Duke's brother and agrees to die in her place. At this point the Ambassadors reveal themselves as the Duke of Milan and the Duke's lost brother. In joy at his brother's return, the Duke forgives everyone and offers to marry Alvaro to Evandra, but Melora steps forward to press a prior claim. This allows Evandra to be married to her true love, Leonell.
DUKE of PARMA
A "ghost character." In the final scene, Leonelle reveals that he is not a Milanese knight, but the son of the Duke of Parma and that furthermore, the Duke of Parma was the one who took the Duke's brother prisoner and then gave him to the Duke of Milan. Therefore, he argues, if the Duke wants to kill someone for the death of his brother, it should most rightfully be the son of the man who caused it.
Melora is the daughter of the Duke of Parma and the sister of Leonell. She is captured by Altesto, who declares to his friends that he is in love with her, but when Prospero asks that Melora be handed over to wait on Evandra, he agrees at once. Melora helps Evandra lock Alvaro and Prospero in the cave so that they will not sacrifice themselves for Evandra. However, Melora then tells Calladine that she is actually Evandra, hoping to die in her place because Alvaro is in love with Evandra. Calladine is so impressed with her beauty and bravery that he when she asks him to escort her friend, "Melora" out of the town, he instead asks her to pretend to be Evandra and go to the Duke. The real Melora, meanwhile, persuades the Servant to take her directly to the Duke, rather than waiting for Calladine's return. Both women claim to be Evandra and so the Duke decides to have them both executed. They are visited in their prison by Alvaro, Leonell and Propsero, and then prepared for execution. Before they can be killed, Leonell reveals himself as the Duke of Parma's son and the Duke agrees to let him take their place. At this point the Ambassadors reveal themselves as the Duke of Milan and the Duke's lost brother. In joy at his brother's return, the Duke forgives everyone and offers to marry Alvaro to Evandra, but Melora steps forward to press a prior claim. She reminds Alvaro of his visit to her court five years ago and his promise to marry her if the war between their fathers was ever settled. Alvaro declares that although her beauty has changed, it is not lost and he is content to marry her.
An unnamed Prologue presents a sonnet that first rejects the very idea of a prologue, and then separates the audience into various groups and describes how they will react to a prologue.
Propsero is a friend of Alvaro. He almost loses Alvero's love when he takes Evandra prisoner. He sends Evandra to his house before Alvaro enters, and when Alvaro find out, he is appalled that Prospero would actually take a lady prisoner. When he finds out that his father plans to kill Evandra, he threatens Prospero's life. Prospero is devastated and promises first to free Evandra and, when it turns out to be too late, to hide her in a secret cave until she can be freed. This reconciles the two friends, and Prospero asks Altesto to turn over his prisoner, Melora, to wait on Evandra. When Alvaro and Prospero visit Evandra in the cave, Prospero is so moved by her nobility that he falls in love with her, which he confesses to Calladine. Prospero brings Leonell to Evandra for company. Prospero and Leonell almost duel when they discover that both love Evandra, but they are distracted by Alvaro's arrival to tell Evandra that he will be dying in her place. After tricking Alvaro into entering the cave, Evandra tells Prospero to take him food and water, and then locks them both in. They are freed by Leonell, and Prospero and he start their delayed duel, but are stopped by Alvaro, who declares that since they all love Evandra, they should all be as brothers. Together, they travel to the prison where Evandra and Melora are held. Alvaro tells the women that all three begged on their knees that they be released, but to no avail, so they have come to see them die. Prospero and Leonell are for fighting, but Alvaro declares they are beyond help and that the men must instead watch the women executed and then die themselves (it is not clear if he believes they will spontaneously die, or that they should commit suicide). Once the Duke of Milan and the Duke's brother reveal themselves, Alvaro asks the Duke to forgive Prospero, so that all can be happy. The Duke does so at once, and Prospero declares that will go to war to win a perpetual peace for the young couples.
Calladine's Servant. He tells him a lady in mourning wishes to speak to him. He is given charge of Melora (pretending to be Evandra) and she persuades him to bring her to the Duke's court. The Servant worries that Calladine will be angry with him, which is proven true as soon as they appear in court. The Servant defends himself from Calladine's anger by stating that she told him she had Calladine's consent to come to the court.
Tristan is a soldier and friend of Altesto, Frivolo and Vasco. He enters to them to report that the battle is done. He seems slightly more serious than his friends; he tells Frivolo that he should marry Lelia because her mother is wealthy, but does not join in with mocking the Widow, or try to persuade her to marry Vasco. He does, however, arrive with the others the day after the wedding to tease the Widow and Vasco. Apparently at the Widow's request, he brings Lelia and the Widow to the place of execution, but Vasco asks them to leave, which they do.
Vasco is a colonel in the army, and captures an extremely old Widow as his prisoner. He also captures Leonell, but sells his ransom to Prospero. Vasco decides to marry the Widow, believing that she will die (or he will be able to kill her) and he will then become rich. He and his friends make fun of the Widow in her presence, but are not heard since the Widow is mostly deaf. She has the last laugh however, when, after the wedding, she does not die, but instead makes his life miserable. Vasco is present when Melora appears before the Duke, claiming to be Evandra. Altesto recognizes her as his prisoner, but Vasco tells him to be quiet, and wishes his Widow would sacrifice herself so nobly. When the Duke tells Vasco to have a group of soldiers guard Melora and Evandra, he deputizes Altesto to gather the men, while commenting that it is hardly necessary. After all is revealed and all are reconciled, Vasco tells Calladine that he now believes in the munificent power of the stars and will study astrology from now on.
The Widow is an extremely old woman captured by Vasco in the opening battle. He decides to marry her for her wealth. He hires Lelia both to be her servant and to help persuade her to accept him in marriage, which she does. Vasco, along with Altesto, Frivolo and Tristan, regularly mock the Widow for her advanced age and poor health, often in her presence since she is mostly deaf. At first, Vasco worries that she will die before the wedding, but she has the last laugh when she turns out to be sturdier than he suspected. Despite his attempts to give her a cold and tire her out so she will die, she remains as healthy as she was before the wedding and Vasco ends up complaining about his lack of sleep, although it is unclear if it is her snoring or her sexual demands that keep him up.
WIDOW'S FIRST HUSBAND
A "ghost character." Tristan describes her first husband as a man who made a fortune through a monopoly on dead women's hair, and that everyone in Milan talked about it (although he is not clear if it is the monopoly or the product that caused the gossip).