Roberto, the author’s persona, a “scholar” educated at university. He is the son of a miserly father who takes great umbrage at his son’s superior airs and disapproval of his profitable usury. His father, about to die, announces that he has willed everything to his younger son, Lucanio. Distraught, Roberto plots revenge. After his father’s death, he sets up a meeting between Lucanio and a prostitute named Lamilia, knowing that his inexperienced brother will prove easy prey for her confidence schemes. She, however, turns on Roberto, rejecting his claims on a share of the booty. Demoralized and nearly destitute, he becomes a mere observer of his brother’s ruination. At the prompting of a player-patron, he takes up a dissolute, bohemian life as a playwright, keeping company with society’s scum, rebuffing his wife’s efforts to reform him, and drinking and whoring his way to ill health and penury. He is left at the end with the groat that had been his sole inheritance.
Lucanio, Roberto’s younger brother and his father’s favorite. Although he shares his father’s miserliness, he is putty in the hands of the conniving Lamilia. She soon tricks him out of his fortune, leaving him destitute. Roberto offers no solace but does use Lucanio as a “property” in “conny-catching” bunko schemes. Lucanio finally resorts to pimping, a job that even his brother finds degrading.
Gorinius, a usurer and father to Roberto and Lucanio. He is a hypocrite, appearing religious and upright but lacking in compassion for his debtors, driving many of them into exile. He is selfish and proud of his material success. He suffers from gout and an unspecified lingering disease that kills him. On his deathbed, he reveals that he has bestowed all of his money and property on Lucanio because the younger son shares his miserly love of gold. His philosophy is that wealth is a substitute for true character and has...
(The entire section is 819 words.)