Bartholomew Cokes, a foolish, prodigal young gentleman of Harrow. He is made of the stuff without which fairs and carnivals cannot succeed; fortunately for them, his kind is supposed to be born at the rate of one a minute. A trinket-buyer, he is carried away by the trifles in the booths, and he is an easy victim for pickpockets and confidence men. Blessed with a lovely, well-to-do fiancée, he neglects and loses her.
John Littlewit, a petty official with a pretty wife and a mother-in-law with Puritan leanings. He takes great pride in the fair, especially in the puppet show, for which he has written the script. He and his wife have some difficulty persuading the mother-in-law to go to the fair, but they finally succeed.
Win-the-Fight Littlewit, John’s wife, Dame Purecraft’s daughter. As simpleminded as her husband, she falls in with his plans to go to the fair and convinces her mother and Zeal-of-the-Land Busy that she should go to satisfy her longing for pork. She is deceived by Captain Whit into putting on a green gown (a badge of harlotry) and letting him offer her favors to a gentleman at the fair. She escapes the fate her foolishness almost brings on her.
Dame Purecraft, John Littlewit’s mother-in-law. Hesitating between two suitors, Rabbi Busy and Ned Winwife, she is troubled by a prophecy that she is to marry a madman. When she meets the insane Troubleall at the fair, she pursues him, thinking it is her fate to marry him. She finally consents to marry Tom Quarlous, in disguise, believing him to be Troubleall.
Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, a Puritan divine. Filled with thunderous rhetoric against the foul fair, papistry, and other abominations, he is a gluttonous hypocrite. He manages to get himself into the stocks for disturbing the peace and at the fair is bested in an argument with a puppet.
Ned Winwife, first the suitor of Dame Purecraft, then the successful suitor of Grace Wellborn. He is a sensible foil to many of the foolish characters.
Tom Quarlous, Winwife’s friend. He is the chief mover of the action, employing Edgeworth to steal Cokes’s license, disguising himself as Troubleall to marry Dame Purecraft, and showing up Justice Overdo to prevent a cloud of punishments on all the...
(The entire section is 1028 words.)