James Shirley

26 May 1641?
Note: this play, first published in 1652 or 1653, may be the same as the comedy licensed on 4 November 1626. Harbage and Schoenbaum identify it as the comedy licensed 26 May 1641, possibly as a revision of the earlier play.

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A gentleman; friend and creditor to Luys, who promises to arrange a marriage for him with his sister, Jacinta. Don Carlos, Jacinta's father, at first encourages his suit, but soon gives him up in favour of a richer suitor, Don Pedro. Encouraged by Luys, who wants his debts cancelled, Alberto tries to abduct Jacinta on her way to marry Pedro. He finds, however, that her place has been taken by the wealthy widow Estefania, while Jacinta herself has eloped with the man she loves, Francisco. Making the best of his situation, Alberto marries Estefania instead.


Wife to Don Carlos, mother to Jacinta and Luys. Luys refers to and addresses her, with cheerful brutality, as old and ugly. She does her muted best to restrain her husband's greedy plans for their children, but her most arresting characteristic is her cough, the sound of which enables Alberto to follow the carriage in which she and Jacinta are travelling so that he may kidnap Jacinta.


A gentleman of Madrid; father to Jacinta and Luys, brother to Theodoro, and uncle to Felisarda. His greatest concern is to settle his children in wealthy marriages, especially his daughter, Jacinta. In his desire to achieve this, he betroths her, in quick succession, to
  • Fernando, the eldest son of his old friend Ramyres;
  • Alberto, a friend and creditor of his son Luys; and
  • Don Pedro, also a creditor of Luys and the wealthiest of the three.
He is shamelessly greedy in breaking off his daughter's engagements, and shows cruelty to his impoverished niece, Felisarda, banishing her from his house when it seems (rightly) that Fernando prefers her to Jacinta. Eventually, however, chastened by the brief fright of Jacinta's disappearance and encouraged by Ramyres' new financial arrangements, Don Carlos accepts his daughter's marriage to Ramyres' younger son, Francisco, his niece's marriage to Fernando, and his son's refusal to marry anyone at all.


The confessor carries Fernando's request for a blessing to his supposedly dying father, Ramyres.


A rich young widow. She was formerly betrothed to Don Pedro, but he reneged on the contract in favour of Jacinta. Don Carlos hopes to secure her for his son, Luys, but Luys has no desire for marriage. Wishing to recover Don Pedro, Estefania exchanges clothes with Jacinta, and finds herself abducted by Alberto, another of Jacinta's suitors. She marries Alberto who falls conveniently in love with Estefania and forsakes Jacinta.


Daughter to the impoverished Theodoro and niece to Don Carlo, in whose house she lives. Felisarda is a modest girl who attracts the love of the wealthy Fernando when she is praying in church. Fernando pretends to be courting Jacinta while in fact courting Felisarda. Don Carlo sees through this pretence and threatens to send Felisarda away (a plan he soon drops upon selecting a still wealthier husband for Jacinta). When Fernando confesses his love for Felisarda to his father, Don Ramyres, he is cursed and disinherited. Felisarda is happy at the thought that now she will not be so far beneath him, but he refuses to bring her into ruin with him. The situation is finally resolved when Don Ramyres reveals that he was only conducting a test of Fernando's piety and Felisarda's love. Restored to his position, Fernando marries Felisarda.


Elder of the two "brothers" of the title. Elder son of Don Ramyres and brother to Francisco. Don Ramyres and his old friend, Don Carlo, arrange that Fernando should marry Don Carlo's daughter, Jacinta. Fernando, however, falls in love with Felisarda, Jacinta's penniless cousin. Persuaded that his father will accept the situation, Fernando confesses his love. His father thereupon curses and disinherits him, and soon after seems to fall mortally ill. Fernando is more concerned about the curse than the disinheritance, and manages to persuade his father, through his confessor, to replace it with a blessing. The disinheritance, however, remains, and Fernando is soon bitterly resentful of his younger brother, Francisco-so much so that Francisco finally offers to overthrow his father's will and reinstate Fernando. Fernando refuses the dishonourable suggestion, and at this, Ramyres reveals that he is still alive. He was (with the help of Francisco) testing Fernando and Felisarda, who have passed the test. Fernando is reinstated as eldest son and marries Felisarda.


The second of the two "brothers" of the title. Younger son of Don Ramyres and brother to Fernando. Francisco loves Jacinta, daughter to Don Carlo, but Don Carlo is anxious that she should marry his elder brother, and so Francisco, to gain access to her, pretends to love her poor cousin, Felisarda, the girl Fernando loves. Francisco is elevated to heir apparent when Fernando confesses his love for Felisarda to Don Ramyres, who disinherits him in favour of Francisco-an action he later reveals as a test of Fernando, carried out with Francisco's knowledge. Francisco's temporary status as Ramyres' heir reconciles Don Carlo to his love for Jacinta. When Ramyres reinstates Fernando, he makes a generous settlement on Francisco too, thus ensuring that Don Carlo remains reconciled.


Daughter of Don Carlo and Alsimira, sister to Luys. Jacinta loves Francisco, the younger son of Don Ramyres, but her father wants a wealthy match for her, and so betroths her first to Francisco's elder brother, Fernando, and then, as Luys introduces them, to Alberto and finally to Don Pedro, the latter of whom was formerly betrothed to the widowed Estefania. To help her, and to rid herself of an unwanted suitor, Jacinta exchanges clothes with Estefania before setting out for her wedding with Don Pedro. On the way, Estefania is abducted by Alberto (whom she ultimately marries), but the trick works smoothly for Jacinta, who elopes with Francisco and is privately married to him.


Another name for Luys (q.v.)


Son to Don Carlo and Alsimira, brother to Jacinta. Luys is a cheerful rogue with an aversion to the company of older, graver people. His one desire is to pursue his pleasures with other people's money. In order to settle his debts to Alberto, Luys promises to arrange a marriage between him and Jacinta. He also agrees to act as a go-between for Don Pedro, a still wealthier suitor. Don Carlos hopes that Luys himself will marry a rich widow, Estefania, but they both avoid this fate. Estefania marries Alberto, and Luys, who does not want to marry anyone, is finally taken on by Don Pedro, who likes "his wit, his spirit, and his humour." Don Pedro offers to look after him and his financial needs.


The notary draws up a new will for Don Ramyres, making his younger son, Francisco, his heir in place of the elder son, Fernando. The notary attests that such documents are easily altered-as indeed this one will be, when Ramyres reinstates Fernando.


A nobleman; the third and wealthiest suitor of Jacinta, the daughter of Don Carlos. Don Pedro is a boastful and faithless character who was engaged to Estafania but has now broken it off. His hope, encouraged by Luys, the brother of Jacinta, is to marry her and take her cousin Felisarda as his mistress. Failing in both ambitions, he is driven to offer again his hand to Estefania, only to find that she has meanwhile married Alberto. Don Pedro accepts the situation with good humour, and, since he cannot have Jacinta, asks Don Carlo for her brother Luys instead, as it is clear that they have much in common and could live agreeably together.


The physician attends Don Ramyres when he is supposedly dying, and brings his son Fernando discouraging news about his father's progress.


A gentleman of Madrid, father to Fernando and Francisco. Don Ramyres and his friend Don Carlos want to arrange a marriage between Fernando and Carlos's daughter, Jacinta. This is thwarted by the children themselves. Jacinta wants to marry Francisco while Fernando falls in love with Felisarda, Jacinta's poor cousin. When Fernando confesses his feelings, Ramyres curses and disinherits him, and soon after apparently dies of the strain. At the end, however, he reveals that he was only shamming in order to test Fernando and Felisarda. He reinstates Fernando as his heir, providing Francisco with a handsome jointure to mollify Don Carlos and smooth his younger son's marriage to Jacinta.


Don Roderigo is a "ghost character." Don Carlos mentions him as the father of Alberto. He died fighting the Moors.


A "ghost character." Impoverished brother to Don Carlo and father to Felisarda.