James Shirley


licensed 10 November 1640

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


This unnamed Abbess of a Benedictine nunnery has watched over Fioretta. Fioretta vanishes, however, and the Abbess finally agrees to the duke's scheme for Juliana to assume Fioretta's place and dupe Leonato, who has never seen his pledged bride Fioretta.


Antonio's role is that of gentleman acquaintance of Fioretta in Ferrara.


Bertoldi is the cowardly son of Florelia. Leonato is unable to locate Bertoldi during the heat of battle, yet Bertoldi arrives later and claims to have fought hard and killed many. Recognizing his own cowardice, he constantly schemes to have others offer praise of his valor; he promises the reward of his mother's hand to no fewer than six men in exchange for their testimony.


A "ghost character." She is only mentioned in passing by Bertoldi.


Claudio is dedicated to Flaviano. Disguising themselves, Claudio and Flaviano seek Honorio in Ferrara and hope to murder him there. Eventually, however, it is Claudio who stops Flaviano from killing Honorio.


Donabella is Leonato's sister and lives at court in Ferrara. She believes the woman that Leonato brings from the Mantuan nunnery is Fioretta, and she quickly falls in love with the visiting Honorio. She does not know that Lauriana, recently arrived in Ferrara, is actually Fioretta and the sister of Honorio. Eventually each impostor in the play is revealed, and Donabella is to wed Honorio.


The Drawer pours wine in the tavern where Pandolfo works.


A "ghost character." The Duke of Ferrara is the father of Leonato. He dies offstage.


The Duke of Mantua has promised to wed his daughter Fioretta to Leonato of Ferrara in exchange for Ferrara's military assistance. Fioretta vanishes, however, and the duke then agrees to Flaviano's suggestion that Juliana be substituted for Fioretta, for Leonato has seen no picture of Fioretta and has never met her. When his son Honorio goes to Ferrara looking for vengeance, the duke shortly follows, offering himself in exchange for Honorio if need be. The duke eventually banishes Flaviano for treachery.


Daughter of the Duke of Mantua and sister of Honorio, Fioretta is uncertain about wedding Leonato, to whom she is promised but whose face she has never seen. She enters Ferrara as Lauriana, quickly discovering that another woman-Juliana-has assumed her identity. Fioretta quickly falls in love with Leonato, whom she will eventually wed.


Flaviano is close to the Duke of Mantua, and his intimacy allows him to take chances that most men would forego. Desiring the duke's daughter Fioretta for himself, for example, Flaviano instigates the substitution of Juliana for Fioretta. His desire for Fioretta also drives him to disguise himself as Claudio, travel to Ferrara, and attempt to kill Honorio. Eventually revealed for the impostor and false counselor that he is, Flaviano dons the guise of a friar and attempts to hide in the woods. He is finally banished from both Mantua and Ferrara.


A "ghost character. She is described as an old lady who brain is far from decrepit.


Florelia is Bertoldi's mother and a widow. She desires that her son Bertoldi be less of a coward, but she rightly disbelieves the tales of Bertoldi's valor as told by his acquaintances-all of whom have been offered Floralia's hand in exchange for their storytelling. Eventually donning male attire and participating in a tavern joke upon her own son, Florelia agrees to wed Hortensio.


Having just wed Hortensio to Florelia, the Friar loses his habit to Flaviano as the latter tries to hide himself from the wrath of two dukedoms.


Honorio is the son of the Duke of Mantua. Furious when he hears that his sister Fioretta has been taken from the nunnery by Leonato, Honorio swears revenge and rushes to Ferrara, where he speaks with Leonato without revealing his identity. He discovers Juliana pretending to be Fioretta, and he also discovers the attraction of Leonato's sister Donabella, who reciprocates his interest and who, by the play's end, has promised to marry him.


Hortensio serves Ferrara as colonel. Having fought in the battle to save Mantua, he knows of Bertoldi's cowardice. Nevertheless, he agrees to tell Bertoldi's mother Florelia that her son is and has been a valiant man, and Hortensio weds Florelia near the end of the play.


Juliana is Flaviano's mistress sent by him to a nunnery and asked to assume Fioretta's name when Leonoato of Ferrara claims his bride. Because Fioretta has vanished, Juliana takes her place and is kidnapped from the nunnery by Leonato. Deeply ashamed of not only her relationship with Flaviano but of her ruses and deceptions as well, Juliana reveals her identity near the end of the play and willingly enters a house of converts. She speaks the play's Epilogue.


Lauriana is the name used by Fioretta while in Ferrara.


As the son of the Duke of Ferrara, Leonato has been promised the hand of Fioretta of Mantua in exchange for military assistance. He is affronted when the supposed Fioretta tells him he must wait at least a year to marry her, during which time she will offer prayers of thanksgiving for Mantua's military victory. Leonato kidnaps "Fioretta" and takes her to Ferrara, where eventually he discovers that "Fioretta" is really Juliana, and Lauriana is really Fioretta. Leonato and Fioretta are in love by the play's end and plan to wed.


Pandolfo works in a tavern and convinces Hortensio and Volterino to join in a joke to be played on Bertoldi. As part of the joke, Pandolfo first dons the guise of a soldier, then later the garb and mien of an ugly old woman.


Petronio is a noble of Ferrara. He announces the arrival of Leonato and his bride-to-be (Juliana assuming the name of Fioretta), and he brings news to Leonato of the death of the Duke of Ferrara.


Volterino serves Ferrara as colonel. Having fought in the battle to save Mantua, he knows of Bertoldi's cowardice. Nevertheless, he agrees to tell Bertoldi's mother Florelia that her son is and has been a valiant man. When co-colonel Hortensio weds Florelia near the play's end, Volterino is appointed guardian of Bertoldi and Bertoldi's estate.