Licensed 19 January 1634
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Lady Ample is a young and wealthy widow who has been under the control of her parsimonious and greedy guardian, Sir Tyrant Thrift. She, like many of the other characters in this play, lives on her wits. In her case, this means convincing gentlemen to give her extravagant gifts without compromising her virtue. She undertakes the reeducation of the elder Pallatine by pretending to be in love with him and then assisting his brother, the younger Pallatine, in springing a trap designed to show up his vanity. She also instructs Lucy to take money from her lover, not give it away, and pretends to have died, convincing her guardian that he has inherited everything. After extracting a promise of implicit lifelong obedience from the elder Pallatine at the end of the play, she marries him as soon as her wardship expires.
The steward to Sir Tyrant Thrift, he is entirely in the service of Lady Ample and helps to convince the elder Pallatine that she is in love with him, and he also convinces Thrift that she has died.
Lady Ample's "woman," or maid, she also assists Lady Ample's schemes.
Lucy, beloved of the younger Pallatine, undergoes a substantial transformation in the course of the play. At the beginning, she is in the thrall of a wealthy aunt, who is also a religious bigot. She gives the younger Pallatine all of her jewels and money in order to keep him out of trouble. Her aunt consequently throws her out of the house. Her aunt believes that she has given away her virtue as well. Taken in by Lady Ample, she is instructed to consider her beauty and wit a gift worthy of substantial remuneration, and she learns to ask the younger Pallatine for money to defray her expenses. A full participant in the schemes of Lady Ample and the younger Pallatine, she marries the latter at the end of the play.
A "ghost character." Although this character is not named and does not physically appear in the play, her frequently reported offstage cruelty to Lucy and exaggerated piety sets the plot of the play in motion.
A soldier newly home from Holland. He is desperately poor. The younger Pallatine gives him money and new clothing in exchange for his assistance in his (the younger Pallatine's) schemes, which include convincing both the elder Pallatine and Thwack to wait for a wealthy lady in a deserted room and taking off all of their clothes. He, along with Pert, then proceed to rifle the clothing for their expensive hatbands, jewelry, and money.
PALLATINE the ELDER
The older brother of the younger Pallatine. Without being cruel, he is foolish and thoughtless. Instead of helping his younger brother with his financial needs, he determines to show him that, in London, a man may live by his wits alone. To this end, he and Sir Morglay Thwack loan out the rents of their lands for pious purposes and arrive in London richly dressed, convinced that they will be able to get ladies to pay for all of their expenses. Lady Ample, his younger brother, and Lucy show him his mistake. He is tricked into an empty room, stripped of his fine clothes, arrested, and finally locked in a trunk. Instead of being cross, he is enchanted with his brother's cleverness and Lady Ample's beauty and wit, and begs the latter to marry him. He agrees to sign a financial document for her, sight unseen, and this act of faith wins him his bride, who knows that he is easily controlled.
PALLANTINE the YOUNGER
In love with Lucy and desperately strapped for cash. At the beginning of the play he meets his friends Meager and Pert, who are in worse shape than he is. He takes Lucy's money, but that gets her into trouble. After it is clear that he can expect no help from his brother, he sets about fooling him and Thwack into parting with their money. His schemes successful, he is able to give Lucy money, and after his brother signs Lady Ample's document (which gives him an estate), and Thwack asks him to be his heir, he is able to marry Lucy at the end of the play.
Like Meager, a recently returned soldier. He is very poor, a friend of the younger Pallatine, and a full participant in his schemes.
The landlady of the house in which the younger Pallatine's schemes are enacted. At first she, Snore and Mistress Snore are convinced that some sort of illegal and bawdy activity is taking place. She engages in much arguing with Mistress Snore about their relative virtue and fertility.
A classic dull-minded constable in the tradition of Dogberry. He arrests both the elder Pallatine and Thwack. After he becomes aware that it is all an elaborate hoax, he is delighted to go along with the scheme.
An easily excited woman. She is keen on reporting wrongdoing in her neighbor Mistress Queasy's house and eager to make her husband perform his constabulary duty.
SIR TYRANT THRIFT
Lady Ample's guardian. He plans to marry her off against her will before his guardianship expires. Instead, he is pleased to find that she is apparently dying, leaving him her entire fortune. He demonstrates his heartlessness by his plans to bury her cheaply. This is, of course, another of Lady Ample's tricks, and his greedy schemes are foiled.
SIR MORGLAY THWACK
The elder Pallatine's friend. He is equally determined to live by his witsand off ladiesat the beginning of the play. He has agreed to take on the ladies over forty, while the elder Pallatine woos the younger ladies, but they quarrel about this early on. The elder Pallatine tricks him with the same empty-house scheme that was earlier used on him. Thwack is persuaded by the younger Pallatine to take his revenge. Like the elder Pallatine, he is very amused by the younger Pallatine's wit and adopts him as his heir.