Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Balia, nurse to beautiful young Polinesta, expresses concern about her mistress’s practice of sleeping with her father’s servant, Dulippo. Polinesta reproves Balia, reminding her that it is she who first gave Dulippo access to Polinesta’s bedroom. Polinesta also reassures Balia by explaining that Dulippo is, in reality, not a servant, but Erostrato, the son of a wealthy Sicilian merchant. Having come to Ferrara to pursue his studies, he fell in love with Polinesta upon his arrival. Consequently, he has taken the name of his servant Dulippo and has secured employment in the house of his beloved’s father. Meanwhile, the true Dulippo has assumed the identity of Erostrato and occupies the house next door.
This affair has been going on for two years, but now it is being complicated by the fact that Cleandro, a doddering old doctor of law, has become a suitor for Polinesta’s hand, tempting her father with an offer of two thousand ducats. The real Erostrato is attempting to forestall him by having the false Erostrato ask for her hand, too, and by having him meet Cleandro’s offer.
The old doctor arrives in the company of his ever-hungry parasite, Pasifilo, and the two ladies retire. Cleandro’s eyesight is so bad that he cannot tell who they are. Under Pasifilo’s prodding, Cleandro boasts that he will go to any price to secure Polinesta. He has, he claims, amassed a fortune of ten thousand ducats during the time he has lived in Ferrara,...
(The entire section is 925 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Pretenders Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!