Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Gorboduc (gohr-BOH-duhk), a king of ancient Britain. After ruling his land wisely for many years, he disregards the advice of his sage counselors, divides the realm between his two sons, and thus brings tragedy on his family and his country. He recognizes the folly of his decision too late, when he learns of the unnatural deaths of his sons. Filled with remorse, he learns that as a human being, he must grieve; the patience prescribed by his advisers is an attribute of gods alone. He is finally murdered by his people, who have fallen into anarchy as a result of the overturning of the natural order of succession and government.


Videna (vee-DAY-na), his queen. She is partial to her older son and disapproves from the beginning the king’s resolution to deprive Ferrex of half his rightful inheritance, for she foresees in Porrex the envy and pride that later erupt in his brother’s murder. Horrified by Ferrex’s death, she curses and disowns her younger child, then wreaks her unnatural revenge on him.


Ferrex (FEHR-ehks), Gorboduc’s older son, his mother’s favorite. Although he is less malleable than Porrex, he listens to the counselors who encourage him to build an army as protection against the jealous ambition of his brother, thus provoking Porrex’s attack.


Porrex (POHR-ehks), Ferrex’s brother. Easily convinced by flatterers that Ferrex intends to rob him of his realm, he is enraged...

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Gorboduc Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Baugh, Albert. A Literary History of England. 2d ed. East Norwalk, Conn.: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967. A discussion of the play and its authors, setting them within the contemporary artistic world and reflecting on later developments of the dramatic form they introduced.

Berlin, Normand. Thomas Sackville. New York: Twayne, 1974. An excellent introductory volume that places Sackville the author and Gorboduc the drama within the context of their times, as well as identifying their continued importance for English literature.

Brooke, C. F. Tucker. The Tudor Drama. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1964. Discusses the play’s historical and literary sources, the impact of the blank verse upon contemporary writers, and the overall effects the play had on the development of English drama.

Ousby, Ian. The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. A good starting point for the first-time reader or student of the play. Briefly explains its plot, its stage and stylistic innovations, and the influence it had on English drama.