Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Figaro (FEE-gah-roh), a valet to Count Almaviva. In Beaumarchais’ earlier comedy The Barber of Seville (1775), Figaro had helped the young count to marry Rosine. With the passage of time, however, the count has begun to treat Figaro rather badly, and Figaro fears that the count may assert his nonexistent “lord’s right” to sleep with Figaro’s fiancée, Suzanne. Figaro is quite willing to assist the count in his amorous adventures with women other than the countess, but he draws a line when it concerns Suzanne. Although he loves Suzanne, Figaro is tormented by jealousy. In his famous monologue in act V, Figaro laments both the allegation of Suzanne’s infidelity, which is based on misinformation, and the corruptive power of the nobility. Throughout this comedy, Figaro expresses both subservience to his master and a desire to free himself from the count’s oppressive power over his life. Fortuitous events prevent unsympathetic characters from achieving their evil designs, and Figaro and Suzanne are married at the end of act V.
Suzanne, a maid to Countess Almaviva and the fiancée of Figaro. She truly loves Figaro but regrets that Figaro and the count tend to take women for granted. She and the countess decide to teach Figaro and the count a lesson. Suzanne and the countess trade places and clothing. When the count is with the woman he believes to be Suzanne, he actually is with his wife. By switching roles and deceiving both Figaro and the count, the women achieve their goal of teaching their men to pay more respect to them....
(The entire section is 672 words.)
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