Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Palamede (pah-lah-MEH-dee), a courtier. Ordered by his father to marry Melantha, he becomes attracted to and declares his love for Rhodophil’s wife, Doralice. Later, when Doralice becomes reconciled with her husband, Palamede woos Melantha, and they agree to marry.


Rhodophil (ROH-doh-fihl), the captain of the King’s Guard. Married to Doralice, he desires Melantha. When Palamede’s father insists that his son marry Melantha at once, Rhodophil and Doralice are reconciled, and each man pledges to respect the other’s wife.


Doralice (doh-rah-lees), Rhodophil’s wife, desired by Palamede.


Melantha (meh-LAN-thuh), Palamede’s intended, desired by Rhodophil.


Polydamus (po-lee-DAM-uhs), the usurper of the throne of Sicily. In search of his long-lost son, he is convinced by Hermogenes that Leonidas is, indeed, his heir, and he accepts the youth as his own along with Palmyra, the boy’s foster sister. Later, it is revealed that Leonidas is, in reality, the heir of the rightful king, and Polydamus is forced to give up the throne to him. The usurper is then forgiven by the new king, to whom he gives Palmyra, now revealed as his own daughter, in marriage.


Hermogenes (hurm-AH-jeh-neez), a fisherman who raises Leonidas and Palmyra as his own.


Leonidas (lee-o-NIH-duhs), the son of the rightful king of Sicily, who is brought up as Hermogenes’ child. His identity is finally revealed, and he wins back the throne from Polydamus.


Palmyra (pahl-MIHR-ah), Polydamus’ daughter, who is brought up as Hermogenes’ child. After her identity is made known, she marries the now rightful king, Leonidas.


Argaleon (AHR-gah-LEE-ohn), Polydamus’ favorite, who attempts to marry Palmyra and have Leonidas banished.


Amalthea (am-al-THEE-ah), Argaleon’s sister, who is in love with Leonidas.


Philotis (fihl-OH-tihs), Melantha’s maid.


Eubulus (EE-ew-bew-luhs), a former governor who reveals to Palmyra that Leonidas is the son of the rightful king.

Marriage à la Mode Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Eliot, T. S. John Dryden: The Poet, the Dramatist, the Critic. 1932. Reprint. New York: Haskell House, 1966. This classic discussion by a writer who helped to introduce Dryden to twentieth century readers serves as a standard reference. Explains why Dryden’s drama continues to interest critics and students.

Hopkins, David. John Dryden. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986. An introduction to Dryden and a contextual study of his place among English writers. Hopkins includes a plot summary of Marriage à la Mode and discusses marriage and gender relationships in the play.

Hughes, Derek. “The Unity of Dryden’s Marriage à la Mode.” Philological Quarterly 61 (1982): 125-142. Besides working to combat the common judgment that the play’s two plots are quite separate, this article emphasizes characterization, looking behind the comic dialogue to the disconnections between characters.

Loftis, John. “Chapter Two: Dryden’s Comedies.” In Writers and Their Background: John Dryden, edited by Earl Miner. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1972. Carefully differentiating between the play’s comic and serious plots, this discussion calls attention to the sexual play, the witty speeches, and the social distinctions operating in Dryden’s most famous comedy.

Wasserman, George R. John Dryden. New York: Twayne, 1964. This study covers Dryden’s career as well as the political, philosophical, and literary background of his plays for the general reader. The discussion of Marriage à la Mode highlights structural problems not developed elsewhere.