THE NOBLE STRANGER
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
“Ghost characters.” They come in act five to meet with the King of Naples and hurry back to Portugal again with his answer that the princess should marry the King of Portugal’s son.
Mute characters. They attend the King of Naples at the play’s end when he meets with the Prince of Portugal.
At Honorio’s request, he sings “tell me Jove, should she disdaine” under the princess’ window at the opening of act two.
An envious lord. He despises Honorio and Fabianus for gaining the glory he believes is his and vows to be revenged though he pretends friendship to both. He woos Marania. He is further angered, however, when the princess leaves him out in naming the three most worthy men Honorio, Fabianus, and Philomusus and bids them be friends. He opens act three with the play’s first soliloquy in which he hopes to thwart Honorio by revealing the man’s illegal love for the princess. He hides behind the arras to overhear them. He is yet even further enraged when the king gives his three rivals preferment and titles and gives him nothing. He tells the king of Honorio’s illegal wooing of the princess and that Fabianus is their agent. He leads the king to see the lovers’ garden tryst and hides him behind the arras before taking his leave. When Honorio and Fabianus draw their swords against the king to protect the ladies, he enters with his own sword drawn and calls them traitors. The king entrusts Callidus to guard the princess in her lodgings, but he secretly tells Honorio that he’ll arrange for them to meet before Honorio goes into banishment. He allows the conference, he says in his second soliloquy, to keep the princess from suspecting him as he fears her revenge after the king dies and she becomes monarch. He watches with private gloating as the lovers part. When it is revealed that Honorio is the Prince of Portugal, Callidus’ treachery is revealed and his punishment, meted out by Marania, is that Marania will not marry him but become a vestal virgin instead. The king scolds him, saying, “away and learn to amend hereafter.”
Moronzo’s daughter and Marania’s sister. She is the princess’ confidante regarding the princess’ love of Honorio. When Fabianus courts her, she plays coy by rebuffing him as insincere. She nevertheless gives him her ring. When the princess is discovered in her illegal courtship with Honorio, the king pardons Clara of her part in it in deference to the duty her father has shown the king. She bravely takes her leave of Fabianus. When it is revealed that Honorio is actually the Prince of Portugal, she is allowed to marry Fabianus.
DUCHESS of PAVIA
A “ghost character.” She is the young and beautiful sister to the King of Naples. When she married the Duke of Pavia instead of the elderly King of Portugal, it began a war between Naples and Portugal.
The king’s nickname for his disobedient daughter, the princess.
It is unclear who speaks the Epilogue. The Epilogue says that the author is modest and asks for applause if the audience liked the play.
Honorio’s friend. He is in love with Clara, and she gives him her ring. He acts as lookout for his friend when Honorio goes to woo the princess. The king makes him Public Treasurer of Naples. When discovered wooing in the garden, he draws his sword against the king to protect the ladies. When the king promises not to harm the women, he yields. The king banishes Honorio and Fabianus from the country on pain of death by starvation. He takes his leave of Clara and, with Honorio and Philomusus (who joins them), goes into banishment. He returns in the final scene in disguise as an attendant to the Prince of Portugal. He unmasks with Honorio, who is the actual Prince of Portugal, and receives Clara’s hand in marriage.
A “ghost character.” He was a citizen and a Mercer who grew wealthy and left an estate to his widow.
A wench and ‘the court jennet.’ She is called a “black beauty” and agrees to Mercutio’s plan to marry the foolish Pupillus and cuckold him. Mercutio advises her to behave around Pupillus as “a holy sister of the loving Family.” She plays her part well, and Pupillus is hooked. She disguises herself as Minerva to gull the fool. She takes forty angels from him and pours water down his throat to inspire him to wit. She comes again as Flavia and, when asked, agrees to marry Pupillus. Once she’s married, she refuses to split Pupillus’ wealth with Mercutio, Plod, and Fledwit.
A student of law at the Inns of Chancery. He and Plod join with Mercutio in gulling Pupillus. After all his work getting Pupillus to fancy and then marry Flavia, he and his friends find they have been gulled when Flavia refuses to split Pupillus’ wealth with them. Fledwit goes off with Plod to study mischief while Mercutio resolves to live better and go sober to bed.
The noble stranger who claims to be born a Sicilian. He brought money and servants to the King of Naples’ war and so ensured the victory. He is in love with the princess. When he confesses his love, she tells him that it is a capital offense to profess affection to the heir to the crown. They agree to love secretly for his safety not realizing Callidus has overheard them. The king makes him Lord High Marshall of Naples. When discovered wooing in the garden, he draws his sword against the king to protect the ladies. When the king promises not to harm the women, he yields. Rather than allow him to live eternally in Elysium with the princess, the king banishes Honorio from the country on pain of death by starvation. He takes his leave of the princess and, with Fabianus and Philomusus (who joins them), goes into banishment. He returns in the final scene in disguise as an attendant to the Prince of Portugal. At the crucial moment he unmasks and reveals himself to be the Prince of Portugal and so resolve all troubles. He takes the princess’ hand in marriage.
KING of NAPLES
He is newly returned from a long but victorious war against Portugal. The war sprung up when the King of Portugal was disappointed in a hoped-for match with Naples’ sister, who married instead the Duke of Pavia. The king is scandalized to learn that Honorio has been wooing the princess and Fabianus is their agent. Callidus tells him, and the king threatens him with death if he should be lying. He allows Callidus to lead him to see the lovers’ garden tryst and hides behind the arras. When he sees them wooing, he reveals himself and threatens the women and is surprised when Honorio and Fabianus draw their swords against him to protect the women. He sentences the princess to confinement in her lodgings with Callidus as her guard, banishes the men on pain of death by starvation, and yet pardons Clara for her father’s past service to the king. When the princess proves unwilling to shift her affections, the king forbids her the company of Clara or Marania. He offers his daughter in marriage to the King of Portugal’s son.
KING of PORTUGAL
A “ghost character.” An old man. He waged war with Naples when the Neapolitan king’s sister married the Duke of Pavia instead of him. When the princess upsets the King of Naples, he treats with Portugal to have their king marry her to his son.
The king gives his daughter a new lady when he forbids her to see Clara. The lady sings the princess to sleep with “Charm, oh charm, thou god of sleep” and promises to pity and help the princess in her mourning. The part was likely double cast with ‘boy’ as he was also a singer and nearly three acts intervene between the two characters’ appearances. She is on hand in the final scene when all is resolved but plays no active part in the action.
A lord disguises himself as the Prince of Portugal in the final scene when the princess is to be given in marriage. He attempts (in his disguise) to woo the princess, but she is steadfast in her love of Honorio.
LORD HIGH MARSHALL
An honor that the King of Naples bestows upon Honorio.
Moronzo’s daughter and Clara’s sister. She pledges not to marry without her father’s consent. She accepts Callidus as her wooer but resents his flattery. When at play’s end Callidus is revealed to be a scoundrel, she begs and receives the right to punish him. She refuses to marry him but rather than torment him by going to another man she becomes a vestal virgin. Her father counts himself blessed to have such a daughter and the court choruses their approval of her as “the mirror of her sex.”
“Ghost characters.” They plead, through Philomusus, for the Portuguese ships captured in the war to recompense them for their merchant ships destroyed by the Portuguese.
A poet. He assists Philomusus devise a masque. He accepts the fool Pupillus as a student of wit primarily for the money. He secretly proposes to marry the fool off to Flavia, the prostitute. He enlists the aid of Fledwit and Plod in helping to gull Pupillus. In order to ‘inspire’ Pupillus, he makes him eat paper with witty writings on them. He invokes the goddess Minerva to inspire the fool. After all his work getting Pupillus to fancy and then marry Flavia, he and his friends find they have been gulled when Flavia refuses to split Pupillus’ wealth with them. Mercutio counts his losses and resolves to live better and go sober to bed.
A disguise assumed by Flavia to further gull Pupillus. She takes forty angels from him and pours water down his throat to inspire him with wit.
An ancient lord and father to Clara and Marania. He gives Callidus permission to court Marania. He obeys the king’s command when Clara is banished from the princess’ company. At the play’s end, he happily bestows Clara upon Fabianus and counts himself blessed to have such a daughter as Marania, who prefers the life of a vestal to marrying the scoundrel Callidus.
A “ghost character.” She inherited her husband’s estate but died ‘last fall’ and left all to her son.
A “ghost character.” Offstage, a parson marries Pupillus to Flavia.
A noble lord. He has acquitted himself worthily in war and the king asks him to present a masque for the next day. He turns to Mercutio for assistance. When Pupillus tries to hire him to teach him wit, he diverts the fool to Mercutio, who is in need of an income. At the princess’ invitation, he becomes friends with Honorio and Fabianus. The king makes him Secretary of State of Naples. Learning that Honorio and Fabianus have been banished, he determines to go, disguised, into banishment with them. He returns in the final scene in disguise as an attendant to the Prince of Portugal. He unmasks with Honorio and Fabianus to confirm to the King that Honorio is in truth the Prince of Portugal.
PLOD, WILL (or JACK)
A student of law at the Inns of Chancery. He and Fledwit join with Mercutio in gulling Pupillus. Early in the play, Mercutio refers to him as Will Plod but later calls to him by the name Jack. After all his work getting Pupillus to fancy and then marry Flavia, he and his friends find they have been gulled when Flavia refuses to split Pupillus’ wealth with them. Plod goes off to study mischief while Mercutio resolves to live better and go sober to bed.
PRIEST of VESTA
A mute character. In the last scene, Marania calls for a vestal priest to come and witness her vow to become a vestal virgin.
PRINCE of PORTUGAL
A disguise assumed by a lord in the final scene when the princess is to be given in marriage. In fact, Honorio is the true Prince of Portugal.
She falls in love with Honorio at once. When he confesses his love, she tells him that it is a capital offense to profess affection to the heir to the crown. They agree to love secretly for his safety not realizing Callidus has overheard them. Discovered, the king sentences her to imprisonment in her lodgings with Callidus as her guard. She bravely takes her leave of Honorio. When the princess proves unwilling to shift her affections, the king forbids her the company of Clara or Marania. Her father promises her in marriage to the King of Portugal’s son. She determines that she would rather die cursed for her faith than for inconsistency in marrying a foreign prince. When the disguised prince attempts to woo her, she remains steadfast in her love of Honorio. The real prince turns out to be Honorio after all, and she is allowed to marry him.
It is unclear who speaks the prologue, which refers to the ‘little sphere’ of the Salisbury stage, bemoans how far poetry has fallen in these latter days, and craves the audience’s indulgence as this is the first work penned by the author. I begs the audience members not to crown this work with cypress even if they cannot give it their bays.
An honor that the King of Naples bestows upon Fabianus.
A foolish gentleman and a student of law at the Inns of Chancery. His father was a citizen and a Mercer, and Pupillus hopes to be thought a wit in court. He left an estate to his widow, who died and left it to her son, Pupillus, who has used the wealth to buy his way into court. He gives Philomusus a gold sovereign to be taught to be a wit, but Philomusus refers him instead to Mercutio. He is made to woo Flavia, believing the whore a virgin, is shy in wooing, and reads his courtship out of a book to her. He wishes to be inspired, not knowing what it means, in order to win the lady and to that end eats paper with witty writings on them in preparation for the ceremony of inspiration. Each saying that he swallows works upon his imagination so that he comically changes character each time. Flavia disguises herself as Minerva to gull the fool. She takes forty angels from him and pours water down his throat to inspire him to wit. When he sees Flavia next, he gets her to agree to marry him.
SECRETARY of STATE
An honor that the King of Naples bestows upon Philomusus.