Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 422
Figaro (FEE-gah-roh), the barber of Seville. Figaro is a gay and not overly scrupulous barber and apothecary who does not hesitate to be of help to Count Almaviva in his pursuit of marriage with Rosine. Full of stratagems, he multiplies false identities, to the confusion of everyone. His own vein of comment reveals that he is the foe of the old and their heavy, unjustified wielding of authority. His malice, however, is only skin deep.
Count Almaviva (ahl-mah-VEE-vah), a Spanish grandee from Madrid. the conventional ardent lover, he is thoroughly determined to achieve his goal, marriage with the beautiful Rosine. Lacking the intelligence and guile to achieve his purposes, he enlists the aid of Figaro. At Figaro’s suggestion, he assumes two other identities. He first pretends to be Lindor, a soldier enamored of Rosine. When this plan fails, he becomes Alonzo, a pretended music teacher and a substitute for Don Bazile, Rosine’s real music teacher. Almaviva finally quiets an outraged local authority through an appeal to his rank.
Doctor Bartholo (bahr-TOH-loh), Rosine’s elderly guardian, a man suspicious of all young persons and new ideas. Fearful of losing his ward and the money she represents, he keeps her locked away from all suitors and allows her only the company of an elderly music teacher, Don Bazile. Because of increasing suspicion, he plans to marry Rosine himself and thus keep control of her property. He is foiled, however, by the strategies of Figaro and the revealed prestige of Count Almaviva.
Don Bazile (bah-ZEEL), a slanderous music teacher and Doctor Bartholo’s tool. It is he who makes arrangements for the secret marriage between Rosine and Doctor Bartholo. Although he has brought the notary to Bartholo’s house, he accepts a bribe from Almaviva and deserts his former patron.
Rosine (roh-ZEE-neh), the object of Almaviva’s love, an innocent, oppressed young woman. She is, however, capable of prudent suspicion about the pretended music teacher Alonzo and can be convinced that Alonzo is preparing to sell her to the count. When the identity of Alonzo as the count is revealed, Rosine faints, but she recovers in time for a happy marriage and the frustration of her guardian.
The notary, the performer of the marriage between Almaviva and Rosine. Although he is brought to the house to perform a marriage that will link Rosine and Bartholo forever, Figaro is able to convince him that it is Count Almaviva and Rosine who should be married.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 791
Count Almaviva is a young nobleman with one thought on his mind: to woo the beautiful Rosine. Having fallen in love with her at first sight in Madrid, by time the play opens, his continual presence under her window has made Rosine fall in love with him as well. The Count’s desire to wed Rosine forms the intrigue of the play. The Count manages to achieve his goal of winning Rosine only through the help of the clever Figaro.
To win Rosine, the Count takes on numerous roles. Because his interest in Rosine is known to her guardian, Bartholo, he disguises himself to get into the older man’s household. He dresses up as a drunken soldier demanding to be billeted, and later he masquerades as Alonzo, a music teacher and assistant to Bazile. Through both of these disguises, he is able to communicate important information to Rosine. However, he also disguises his true identity to his love. He claims to be an undistinguished, penniless man named Lindor because he wants to be sure that she, unlike the other women he knows, loves him instead of his wealth and position. He finally reveals his true identity to Rosine, once he is certain of her sincerity.
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Bartholo is an old man and the guardian of Rosine, whom he plans to marry. The crotchety, curmudgeonly Bartholo is far from an ideal match for Rosine. He despises any sign of modernity, treats Rosine like property, and tries to rule his household with absolute authority. He is constantly suspicious of Rosine’s actions as well as of the actions of Figaro and the Count (in his numerous disguises). To this end, he tries to keep Rosine isolated in his household. Fearful that he will lose Rosine, he arranges for the notary to come to his home and perform the marriage ceremony. His machinations to wed Rosine are foiled, and, at the end of the play, even the law will do nothing to help him. Thus, he must accept the loss of Rosine to his rival.
Bazile is Rosine’s music teacher, but he also performs numerous duties and favors for Bartholo. However, Bazile awards his loyalty to whoever can pay the highest fee for it, which, in two important instances, is the Count. Because of this characteristic, Bazile does not tell Bartholo the truth about Alonzo, which likely would make Bartholo even more vigilant in guarding Rosine from the Count. He also fails to stop the notary from performing the ceremony.
Figaro is a former servant of the Count. He is a sort of jack-of-all-trades; since leaving the Count’s service, he has worked at many jobs, including as a writer. His personality is an unexpected mix of tenacity and laxity. He currently is employed as a traveling barber, serving Bartholo’s household, but he willingly puts his job at risk to help the Count. Figaro has long proven his ability to survive and to take care of himself under any circumstances.
The clever, quick-thinking Figaro agrees to help the Count win Rosine. He masterminds the complicated series of events that lead to the union between the lovers. He devises the plan to get the Count into the house to speak with Rosine, passes letters between the two, and tries to thwart Bartholo and his mounting suspicions. He performs these services for twofold reasons. He initially agreed to do the favor for the Count, but then the Count also added a financial incentive.
Despite the aid he renders the Count, Figaro is always aware that the Count treats him condescendingly because he is a member of the lower class. However, while he does not refuse to help the Count as a result of this behavior, he continually speaks out—usually with subtlety but occasionally not—and points out this poor treatment. His comments are a statement on the inequities of the social system that prevailed in France during Beaumarchais’s time as well as on the smugness of the French aristocracy.
See Count Almaviva
Rosine is the young ward of Bartholo. She knows Bartholo intends to marry her very soon, and when the Count, as Lindor, makes his interest known, she quickly falls in love with him. Thus, she wholeheartedly goes along with Figaro’s plans. She takes chances to bring about her union with Lindor and acts obstinately toward Bartholo. To keep her affairs secret, she tells Bartholo many lies and refuses to accede to his demands. However, when she believes that Lindor has deceived her, she agrees to marry Bartholo. Upon learning that Lindor is the Count and is not merely attempting to woo her for the Count, she forgives and marries him.