John Webster


(1610 recently urged)

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A nun pregant with Romelio's child. In the end, she reluctantly marries Romelio, hoping that others will learn from her example not to take religious vows lightly. Along with Leonora and Jolenta, she promises to build a monastery.


An honest lawyer. After Crispiano becomes involved in the legal proceedings involving Romelio, Ariosto replaces him as judge.


An servant sent by Romelio to release and return with his mother and the Capuchin.


A Capuchin monk who mistakenly brings news that Contarino and Ercole have killed one another. Later, he also reveals that Contarino is, in fact, still alive.


A great lord and beloved of Jolenta. When Contarino learns that Jolenta has been compelled to marry Ercole, he challenges Ercole to a duel, wounding him and suffering serious wounds himself. On the brink of dying, he is, incredibly, cured when Romelio stabs him. On recovery, he disguises himself to learn the truth about Jolenta's rumored marriage to Ercole. He serves as Ercole's second during preparations for a duel with Romelio. Eventually, he is revealed to be still alive and is embraced by Ercole.


An unscrupulous lawyer. He provides long-winded denunciations of Romelio in court.


A Spanish lawyer posing as a merchant, partly to spy on his son, Julio, but mainly to spy on Romelio for the King of Spain. He also delivers bad news to Romelio regarding his trading abroad. Later, at Romelio's hearing, he poses as a judge and disproves Leonora's claim that Romelio is illegitimate.


A suitor to Jolenta. He accepts Contarino's challenge to fight and is wounded while inflicting serious wounds on Contarino. The duel awakes a profound respect in him for Contarino, and surviving his wounds, Ercole lets people believe he is dead so that Contarino, should he survive, may be married to Jolenta. Hearing that Contarino is dead and that Jolenta is pregnant with his (that is, Ercole's) child, Ercole concludes that Jolenta must be pregnant with Contarino's child. He nevertheless pretends that it is his in order to protect her reputation. He reveals himself to everyone to be alive in court, and accuses Romelio of murdering Contarino. He agrees to settle the dispute by a duel, which is prevented at the last moment by the revelation that Contarino is still alive.


A herald at the duel between Ercole and Romelio.


Sister of Romelio. Jolenta desires to marry Contarino and is horrified at being forced to marry Ercole instead. Hearing that both men have died from wounds suffered during a duel, she is distraught, but believing Romelio's slanders about Contarino, she agrees to a plot to get Ercole's fortune. When the plots have dissolved, she plans to flee to Rome with Angiolella, but returns, finally agreeing, along with Angiolella and Leonora, to build a monastery.


Son of Crispiano.


The mother of Romelio and Jolenta. Hearing that that Contarino has killed Ercole she works to heal him, ostensibly so that he may be tried for the killing. Later, she reveals that she is in love with him and is distraught when she hears that Romelio has killed him. She then brings a suit against him, and announces to the court that Romelio is a bastard fathered by Crispiano while her husband was abroad, a claim that Crispiano himself disproves. Ashamed, she promises to retreat to a monastery, but in the end, along with Jolenta and Angiolella, promises to build one instead.


An official at the duel between Ercole and Romelio.


An officer in the court.


A trusted friend of Romelio.


A legal officer.


A wealthy merchant. When Romelio learns that his ships have been lost, he casts about for means of recovery. Disguising himself as a Jew, he convinces Contarino's surgeons that he is a physician and will include them in a plot to alter Contarino's will. Gaining access to Contarino, he stabs him, but rather than killing him, unwittingly lances the very infection that threatened Contarino's life, allowing Contarino to recover. Meanwhile, thinking Contarino dead, he hatches a plan that would see a bastard child of his substituted for that of Jolenta and Ercole so that his family may inherit Ercole's fortune. To gain Jolenta's consent, Romelio invents a story that Contarino and their mother Leonora had planned to enjoy an affair after his marriage to Jolenta. Soon after, he is called into court and accused by his mother of being a bastard, a charge that is proven false. He is then charged by Ercole with the murder of Contarino, a charge that is to be decided by a duel with Ercole. Before the duel, Romelio begins to have second thoughts about his deeds and on learning that Contarino is still alive, gladly vows to act justly in his dealings and to marry the woman he has impregnated.


A law clerk.


A servant to Julio.


Two surgeons attending Contarino. When they discover that Romelio has attempted to murder Contarino, they accept money to keep silent, but look forward to extorting more from him in due course. They are shocked to learn that Romelio's incision has penetrated the site of the previous wound, allowing the infection to drain away. Redoubling their efforts, they restore Contarino, keep his recovery secret, and allow Romelio to think they have departed for the West Indies. Then, the first surgeon reveals to Winifred that Contarino still lives. For their part in the deceptions, the surgeons are ordered to work free of charge for a year.


A laundry woman in the service of Romelio's family. She attempts to give evidence that would prove that Romelio is a bastard, but her story is shown to be implausible in several ways. On the urging of a surgeon, she reveals to the Capuchin that Contarino is not dead.